The Thunder has been known for its resiliency. Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night in Dallas is the ultimate test of that resiliency.
The Thunder is coming off a spirit-crushing defeat. ESPN reported that in the last 5,000 NBA games in which a team had a 15-point lead with five minutes left, the Thunder (in Game 4) is the only team to blow the lead.
With the Mavericks poised to win the series Tuesday night in front of the home crowd, it would seem the Thunder is facing an emotional and mental mountain.
“It’s definitely going to show what type of team we are,” Russell Westbrook said. Westbrook said the key to overcome the momentum swing is “just stay committed. Stay committed with your team and stay together.
“If you worry about the last game, it’s going to be tough to win tonight.”
Dallas center Tyson Chandler played on the U.S. National Team last summer with Kevin Durant and Westbrook.
“They’ve got pride,” Chandler said. “They’re gonna come out here and play hard.” Chandler said he “didn’t know how tough it’s going to be” on the Thunder to rally from such a discouraging defeat, “but we’re going to try to make it tough on ‘em.”
Maverick Jason Terry was asked about the ESPN camera shot late in the game that showed the Thunder bench disconsolate, even though OKC trailed by only three points with 40 seconds left.
“The last picture in my mind from that game was Durant wearing the championship belt and Nate Robinson cheering around on the sidelines,” Terry said, referring to Durant mimicking putting on a belt, ala Aaron Rodgers, after the Thunder took a 99-84 lead with five minutes left.
“I just new right then it was too early to celebrate,” Terry said. “We know, of all people, what can happen.”
The Mavericks had a 23-point lead on Portland in the third quarter of Game 4 in their first-round playoff series yet lost the game.