Portland used a 37-14 run over the second and third quarters to beat the Thunder 111-98 on Easter Sunday in Game 4, and now trail the series 3-1.
Only two teams in NBA history have ever come back from a 3-1 series deficit in the first round of the playoffs.
So what went wrong Sunday night?
To begin, the Thunder shot 37.5 percent from the field, and 37.5 percent from three-point land, with only 22 points in the paint to go along with only six offensive rebounds.
Russell Westbrook went 5-for-21 from the field, 2-for-7 from three, and only had seven assists. Westbrook was a -17, third worst on the team behind Terrance Ferguson (minus-18) and Steven Adams (minus-21).
The Thunder, known for their defense and forcing turnovers, only forced 12 turnovers compared to the 18 turnovers in the win Friday night.
The Portland Trail Blazers went on an 11-0 run to close the first half after trailing 46-39 with 2:31 to go.
CJ McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Damian Lillard combined to make 13 of Portland’s 15 threes. Portland shot a better percentage from three (42.9 percent) than they did from field (41.1 percent.)
In a shot making league, the Thunder have failed to make shots in three out of four games. In their losses, Oklahoma City has shot 39.3 percent from the field, and 25 percent from three. In the Thunder’s single win in this series, they shot 48.1 percent from the field, and 51.7 percent from three. You can’t expect the Thunder to shoot 50 percent from three every game, but shooting 25 percent in losses is a major no.
This can be attributed to bad luck, and poor roster construction. Paul George and Jerami Grant were the only reliable three-point shooters in the regular season, with Ferguson having a small stretch of reliability. So far in four playoff games, no-one on the Thunder has been reliable from three.
Where can the Thunder go from here? They’re down 3-1 in the series, and Game 5 is in Portland on Tuesday. It would take a miracle for the Thunder to come back in the series, considering the trend they have been going in. George’s health is surely not right, and Westbrook cannot hit the side of the barn. Lillard and McCollum are red hot from three, and they are the best two players in this series by far.
One game at a time is the only way the Thunder can progress. They have not been eliminated yet.
To win Game 5, Oklahoma City will need Westbrook to make some better decisions, if that means shot selection, or basketball IQ. George will need to be in his January form, with elite scoring and defense. Thunder role players, such as Schroder, Grant, and Ferguson will need to contribute in some way as they did in Game 3.
Game 5 is set to tip-off at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.
Keys to the Game
PG the playmaker D
Paul George turned the ball over four times, and had six assists. George finished with 32 points on 8-for-21 (4-for-10 from three) from the field. George was a -2, the best plus-minus for an Oklahoma City starter.
Ferguson foul trouble B
Ferguson did not have any issues with foul trouble, but did have issues simply being an effective player in the game. Ferguson shot 1-for-7 (1-for-6 from three) from the field, and was a -18. A much more important player had foul trouble, and his name is Paul George. George collected his third very early into the second quarter and didn’t play until the second half. The Thunder trailed by four going into the second half, and never regained the lead.
Deny Dame B
Damian Lillard was 0-for-6 until 1:14 left in the first half. Lillard finished 7-for-19 from the field, which would equal 7-for-13 from the 1:14 mark in the second quarter until the end of the game.
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