The Thunder are coming off a dominating 99-72 victory over the Grizzlies on Wednesday. Close out games are the hardest game in the NBA. Oklahoma City is currently 1-1 on closing out games this year.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are just in their 4th and 3rd year in the league, respectively, and are on the cusp of entering the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. They’re on pace to be the second youngest team ever to win a World Championship. (’77 Portland Trailblazers)

If the Thunder are going to get this victory, they’ll have to excel at these keys.

Control Zbo, Gasol: I feel like I’ve been preaching about this since game 1. Which, is perfectly understandable. In game 4, Gasol & Zbo combined for 60 points and 37 rebounds. However, great defense in Game 5, they COMBINED for just 24 points, 12 rebounds. Great defensive effort by all the bigs were key to this.

James Harden: He’s so key. He spurs the second offense while the starters rest. He’s the go to guy. However, most don’t realize, he’s key to whether we win or lose.

When Harden scores 10 points or more: 5-1 (101-93 OT loss to Grizz)
When Harden scores less than 10 points: 2-2

Emotions: The Grizzlies are going to be fired up. Their backs are against the wall. The Thunder embarrassed them on national television. Thunder will need to fight the crowd, noise, and the players. This team has too much pride to back down. However, how will they react with their back against the wall? We’ll find out tonight. Oklahoma City needs to keep the pace, and don’t allow their emotions to get the best of them. 

Prediction: OKC 99, Grizzlies 91. Bring on Dallas.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Related Articles

About author View all posts Author website

Chuck Chaney

Founder & Editor-in-Chief.
Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.