TULSA - TULSA - Here we are with the defending NBA Western Conference champs on the ropes, down 3-1 in the best of seven series with Memphis in the 2013 second round.
Not what we expected when the regular season ended. It was supposed to be full steam ahead to another NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.
PHOTO GALLERY - OKC Thunder in the 2013 NBA Finals (http://bit.ly/10tyVZL)
But a bad thing happened on the way to the Finals.
Russell Westbrook, the second best player on the team, one of the top 10 players in the world, blew out a knee in game three of the first round, and the Thunder haven't been the same since.
RELATED STORY - Westbrook out for rest of NBA Playoffs (http://bit.ly/ZMJ94m)
Kevin Durant, the best player on the team, has been trying to do it all, and right now his stamina is being challenged.
He will not admit it, joking that press conferences past midnight is more tiring than the games, but he is looking tired, and who could blame him. His 4th quarters have not been crisp. His shooting percentages in the final stanza are markedly lower than the first three quarters.
This is where the secondary parts come in. Overall they have not produced.
Serge Ibaka has not been a big enough factor, in particular on the offensive end.
Nick Collison has fouled out of two of the three losses.
Kendrick Perkins has been non-existent.
Kevin Martin? Inconsistent.
Thabo Sefalosha? Disappearing when needed the most.
Reggie Jackson is finding life in the fast lane a little too much to handle at such a young age.
Derek Fisher has been the team's leading scorer, and he is 39-years-old.
Durant has been trying to get his teammates involved, and in Game 4 it was working out well until that 17-point lead was gone. The next thing we know, Durant stops relying on his teammates, and forces up shots, and the Thunder lose.
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti may have found out more about his role players in the last three weeks with the Westbrook injury than he thought.
Anticipate major changes. Only four players have off-limits signs on their backs. Durant, Westbrook, Jackson and Ibaka.
We knew Westbrook would be missed. But who knew how much?
What do you think will happen the rest of the series? Will the Thunder win Game 5? Will they lose and end their season? Will they make a comeback and pull out the series win in seven games? Tell us in the Comments section or on our Facebook page.
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