The Oklahoma City Thunder are certainly missing their All-Star point guard, Russell Westbrook. In his absence, the Thunder have squandered a 3-0 series lead to the Houston Rockets, and are now in a battle to move on to the next round in the NBA playoffs. The Rockets have won two straight games — including a win in Oklahoma City — to make the series 3-2.
The question is, should the Thunder panic?
The Thunder seem lost offensively with the absence of Westbrook. There is a lot of dribbling without purpose. Westbrook was the Thunder’s best facilitator, and now they are having trouble finding somebody to fill in for him.
Thunder All-Star, Kevin Durant, has done his part in contributing greatly to the Thunder’s offense, but the Rockets have keyed their defensive schemes on him, making it difficult for Durant to gather separation and get good looks.
Somebody on the Thunder’s roster needs to help Durant out. He is one of the best players in the NBA, but games can not be won by him alone.
So where will the points come from outside of Durant? That is a very difficult question. Players like Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Martin, Reggie Jackson, Serge Ibaka and Derek Fisher have shown that they can score in the past, but nobody has done so in the first round on a consistent basis.
The Thunder are in serious trouble against a confident Rockets team. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit, but it seems like this series has the perfect formula to end that streak.
Even if the Thunder are to advance, they will certainly have even more trouble with either the Los Angeles Clippers or Memphis Grizzlies. The defense of both of these teams will give Durant more problems than what he is facing against the Rockets.
With all of that said, the Thunder are still alive. They can still make adjustments to give them better results, but those adjustments will have to come quick. They need just one more win to advance to the next round, but it will be tough against a re-energized and confident Rockets team.
In order to advance to the second round, Thunder players outside of Durant will have to step up. The Rockets have shown that they will not go away easily, and they have proven they can win games, even if James Harden is not playing to his capabilities.
Game 6 will be in Houston at 9:30 ET.