Jun 20, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) ties his shoes for practice for game five of the 2012 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

5IVE Keys For The Both Teams Heading Into Game 5 (Part I - OKC)

Jun 19, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (left) and small forward Kevin Durant (right) talk to the media during the post game press conference after game four in the 2012 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena. Miami won 104-98. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Is this the end of the Thunder’s amazing post season run? After dispatching 3 of the past 10 NBA champions (Mavericks, Lakers, Spurs) in the first three rounds, is this how it ends for a team that proved us that age does not matter? Will LeBron finally win his first NBA championship and possibly even an MVP award he has never achieved? After all those criticisms thrown at him since the day he became a Miami Heat player, is this the day LeBron has been waiting for to silence the media and achieve what he has been fighting for since his arrival in the NBA? At the end of Game 5, those questions will be answered. Game 5 is a win or go home situation for the Thunder and is a game LeBron has been waiting for. Game 5 tips off tonight at 9:00 PM ET on ABC.

Here are my 5IVE Keys for the Thunder heading into Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals:

Let’s start off with the road team, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER:

  • Start Game 5 the same way you started Game 4. In Game 4, the Thunder started the game up 13-3 and finished the quarter and led by as much as 17 points in the 1st quarter. In the second quarter, the Heat rallied and would keep the game tight until the second half where the Heat would begin to pull away and the Thunder would begin to make costly mistakes.
  • Prepare for runs. So far in this year’s NBA Finals, both teams have been able to pull off tremendous runs and neither team had been able to sustain their lead only until the final seconds of the game where one team makes a key mistake which allows the other team to succeed. However, in an elimination game on the road in front of a capacity crowd of Heat and a little bit of Seattle Supersonics fans, the Thunder definitely need to worry about the fans affecting the game. When the Heat make huge runs, especially with the Big 3 involved, the Heat will take over and possibly put the nails on the coffin early on in the game.
  • Defense is the key, and yes, that includes you Durant. You know what they say, “defense wins championships.” So far, the Thunder haven’t done a consistent job on the defensive end against the Heat and they have allowed non-superstar guards Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers from changing the tempo of the game and make a huge impact in the game. In Game 4, both guards took off as Cole led the comeback while Mario Chalmers played aggressive and fearless in the 4th quarter helping the Heat take a commanding 3-1 series lead. The defense of Sefolosha has been stifling on LeBron or D-Wade, but there’s absolutely no stopping them and the Heat. If Ibaka says that LeBron can’t play defense for 48 minutes, I wonder what he would say about Durant who has been lackadaisical on defense.
  • The bearded man must be present. Throughout the first three rounds of the 2012 NBA Playoffs the 6th Man of the Year Award recipient, James Harden, has been nothing short of spectacular and helping his team make it all the way to the NBA Finals. However, since arriving in the NBA Finals, we haven’t had a full/complete game of James Harden. He has spurts at some points during games, but he definitely has not made a huge impact in this series compared to the Western Conference Finals where he played big in big moments. With the Thunder in a win or go home situation, the bearded man must step up and help. If not, Thunder fans forcefully shave his beard themselves.
  • Superstars must be superstars when their backs are against the wall. Remember Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on the road in Boston when the Heat were down 2-3 in the series? You do? Who shined? LeBron right? Well, just like LeBron in that game Durant and Westbrook must be special tonight, specifically Durant. The 3-time NBA scoring champ MUST score 30+ points in order for the Thunder to win Game 5 especially if other players won’t show up. Okay scratch that, whether his teammates like it or not, even Westbrook, it’s Durant’s time to shine. And if Durant doesn’t want to, who needs a championship right? …

Here is the link to the 5IVE Keys for the Miami Heat –> CLICK

For more NBA analysis and opinions check out Theon’s general NBA blog at THEONBA

 

Tags: David Stern Durant Heat LeBron MVP The Finals Thunder

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