- David Thorpe, ESPN Staff Writer
History is not on the side of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Teams holding a 3-1 advantage in a series almost always prevail, losing just eight times in the history of the NBA postseason. From that, you might assume the Memphis Grizzlies will move on to the Western Conference finals.
Further, consider the Thunder remain without their second-best player, Russell Westbrook, one of the top 10 or 15 players in the league, and their odds to advance decrease even more.
But this series is much closer than the record indicates. This is not a series that features crazy scoring runs or legendary scoring droughts. The games are typically tight, especially in the second half. The only significantly large lead occurred in Game 4 -- a 17-point lead by the Thunder, no less.
In the three Thunder losses, they were so close that any of the games easily could have been Thunder wins. They led in Game 2 with 2:11 to play. They were tied with the ball on a fast break with 1:30 left in Game 3.
The difference? The Thunder played and shot poorly in each game while still keeping it close. The best game was Game 4, an overtime loss that saw Kevin Durant miss shot after shot late in regulation and overtime, including one at the rim.
For the Thunder, it's obvious that they need Durant to score, but to do so more efficiently. It is an adjustment he must make tonight or his team's season will end.
3dEthan Sherwood Strauss
4dMatt Walks, ESPN.com