2016 NBA Western Conference Finals: Oklahoma City Thunder look to advance to Finals with Golden State in must-win situation

2016 NBA Western Conference Finals: Oklahoma City Thunder look to advance to Finals with Golden State in must-win situation

The Oklahoma City Thunder blowout the Golden State Warriors 118-94 to take Game 4 to lead the series 3-1. With a commanding series lead, the Thunder look to eliminate the Warriors in Game 5 tomorrow.

sully-akbari
Sully Akbari

It was Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder who put on a show against the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook recorded a triple-double, scoring 36 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and had 11 assists. The Thunder ended up dismantling the Warriors 118-94 and are now one win away from advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2012. For the Warriors, Klay Thompson led the way, scoring 26 points and grabbing five rebounds. With Steph Curry, Draymond Green and the rest of the Warriors' stars playing terrible, they will need to step up for Game 5 in order to stave off elimination.

What the Warriors need to do to in Game 5 to avoid elimination

An uncharacteristic performance from the Warriors starting five led to a Thunder team to take advantage. Curry remains the headline in this series as he claims that he is "70 percent at-best." His health proved his play as he struggled to shoot the ball, as well as turning the ball over. Curry shot 6 for 20 from the field for 19 points. He also had six turnovers. With Curry's health and poor play, the other Warriors need to step up for Game 5.

Key players from the Warriors who didn't play well were Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Shaun Livingston. If it is not Curry or Thompson playing well, it is usually them who pick up the slack. Green who said he took much of the blame for Game 4, needs to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball. He shot one for seven from the field for six points and grabbed 11 rebounds. He needs to drive to the basket to draw fouls rather than taking jump shots in Game 5.

On the defensive end, Curry, Green, and Iguodala were having trouble guarding Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and forward Kevin Durant. The team allowed the Thunder to get what they wanted on offense. The Warriors gave up a total of 118 points and let up a second straight 40-point quarter to the Thunder. Westbrook went all out as mentioned before but once he was off and running, the Warriors had no answer. The Thunder's second lethal scorer, Kevin Durant, scored 26 points and went to the line 10 times for nine points. As the defensive anchors on the team, Green and Iguodala must do a better job in containing both Westbrook and Durant in Game 5.

Golden State Warriors' guard Steph Curry (30) and forward Draymond Green (23) have their backs against the wall, down 3-1 in the series. Photo:
Golden State Warriors' guard Steph Curry (30) and forward Draymond Green (23) have their backs against the wall, down 3-1 in the series | Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

What the Thunder need to do to Advance to the NBA Finals

Going into this series, no one thought the Thunder would be up 3 to 1 in the series. Well, they are now one win away from defeating the defending champions and moving on to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2012. However, winning in Oakland will be tough but if the Thunder do what they did in Game 4, they will advance to the Finals.

The Thunder won Games 3 and 4 by playing up-tempo basketball. The Thunder scored 133 in Game 3 and 118 in Game 4. They moved the ball up the floor at a quick pace as well as finding the best shot. This is hard to do when playing up-tempo because it is taking the best shot in such a quick time. With that said, Westbrook and Durant need to have similar performances and the others to step up. An unlikely boost from the Thunder came from guard Andre Roberson. He scored a career-high 17 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and stole the ball five times. Serge Ibaka also had a good outing, scoring 17 points as well as grabbing seven rebounds. If the Thunder can get these types of performances from players other than Westbrook and Durant, the Thunder will be in great shape for Game 5.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Andre Roberson (21) comes up big for the Thunder, contesting Golden State Warriors' guard Steph Curry (30). Photo:
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Andre Roberson (21) comes up big for the Thunder, contesting Golden State Warriors' guard Steph Curry (30) | Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

Steph Curry made a statement saying that the Warriors season will not end like this, but it is up to them to make the adjustments needed from Game 4 and to play much better in Game 5. On the Thunder's end, it is all about keeping the pace and consistency in Game 5. Game 5 is set to tip-off at 9:00 p.m. Thursday at Oracle Arena where it may be the last game for the 73-9 Warriors.

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