Life without Westbrook is a reality the Thunder must learn to accept.
“It was a different feeling, for sure,” Collison admitted. “I think for us, we have to be able to get over that. Russ is not going to be with us in the playoffs. It can't always be this emotional ‘Win one for Russell' for us because it's too much an emotional roller coaster.
“I think for us we have to focus on what we're doing on the court, getting ready to play and take a business-like approach to these games. Still have the emotion you need for a playoff game, but really focus on what we need to do on the floor.”
Though you couldn't tell it by his on-court demeanor, the last four days must have been especially draining for Jackson. The first two starts of his NBA career were Game 3 and Game 4.
The burden understandably might have weighed heavily on Jackson, who took more shots than Kevin Durant on Monday, finishing 7 for 18 from the field and 2 for 7 from 3-point range for 18 points in 35:45 of playing time.
Mixed in were four rebounds, three assists, two steals, two turnovers and five fouls — all in an attempt fill in for the team's emotional dynamo who had never missed a game in his career (439 games) before Saturday.
Jackson hit a wall in the fourth quarter in Game 4, literally and figuratively, shooting just 2 for 8 from the floor in the final period and colliding with the mammoth Asik in one last hurrah that came up short.