With Russell Westbrook healthy heading into the playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder were viewed as one of the top championship contenders. But now the Thunder must beat the Memphis Grizzlies two straight times if they want to advance, with the first try coming in Game 6 in Memphis on Thursday night.
The Grizzlies have executed "Grit n' Grind" almost to perfection in the series, consistently slowing down the Thunder's high-powered offensive attack en route to a 3-2 series lead. Perhaps the biggest key has been Tony Allen, who has dogged Kevin Durant into a woeful shooting series. Durant, the likely MVP, is shooting just 40.0 percent overall and 28.6 percent from three, numbers significantly lower than his regular-season marks.
Meanwhile, Westbrook is once again drawing a lot of criticism for his ball-hogging. While Westbrook notched a triple-double in Game 5 -- a 100-99 loss that was the fourth straight overtime game in the series -- he needed 31 shots to get his 30 points. For the series, Westbrook is attempting 25.6 shots per game and making just 34.4 percent of those shots.
If Oklahoma City is going to force a Game 7, the Thunder need better play from their two superstars. It would probably be beneficial to get Serge Ibaka involved more, and other players in general. Durant and Westbrook trying to play hero ball against the stingy Grizzlies defense is often a recipe for disaster.
Game time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee
National TV: TNT
Local TV: FOX Sports Tennessee, FOX Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WMFS, WWLS 98.1FM OKC