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You know the 3SOB.com team works tirelessly to bring you as many different viewpoints as possible, and in the playoffs that means we revive our “blogging with the enemy” series. After the Grizzlies Game 3 OT win over the Thunder, we sent 5 questions to Weston Shephard of ThunderObsessed.com. Those of you who tune in regularly to 3SOBRadio will recall that Weston was our guest last week and we are excited to have him joining us again Saturday morning.

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Without further ado, the questions and answers:

1. The Thunder have fallen down 2-1 in this series and yet it feels like it could easily have been 3-0 in favor of OKC going into Saturday’s Game 4. Psychologically, how do you think the 2 near-misses are going to impact the Thunder?
I think that’s kind of what all of us here in Oklahoma are waiting to find out. Coming back from down 17 in the 4th quarter showed a good amount of resolve, so I’m actually not all that concerned about the team from a psychological standpoint. The problem has been setting and maintaining a tempo that is conducive to the way OKC likes to play basketball. I think we saw that tempo in stretches in the fourth quarter, but this is more about coaching and making adjustments than it is psychology. I fully expect Durant and Westbrook to take accountability for the last two games and make sure the team knows the series is still theirs for the taking.
2. What is going on with Reggie Jackson and the rest of the OKC bench?
As I said on [3SOBRadio] last week, I was looking toward Reggie Jackson as an X-Factor in this series with Nick Calathes being out. That has flipped on its axis, as Beno Udrih is actually the one taking advantage of that match-up. Entirely frustrating to watch as a Thunder fan. But to answer the question, I have to be honest and say I have no idea what is up with the bench play right now. I think some of it has to do with the starters being inefficient and there being no OKC momentum, but I think it’s mostly been a lack of confidence while shooting the basketball. I give all the credit in the world to the Memphis defense, but in the last two games Jackson is 2/14 and Caron Butler is 1/9. This is unreasonably bad and those two need to stick around FedExForum after practice and get some extra shots up. I think they both play better in Game 4. The series depends on it.
3. In the regular season, KD and Russ combined to take approximately 46.3% of the Thunder’s shots. That number has ballooned to 59.7% in the first three games of the series. Is that a result of other players reluctance or is that by design?
It’s a little bit of both. I fully believe Scott Brooks has given Durant & Westbrook a green light, especially in the playoffs, but more of an effort must be made to get everyone involved. Especially on a night when your two stars combine to shoot 19/53 from the field. I would have loved to see the ball go through Ibaka on more possessions, as he shot 6/10 on the evening and his mid-range game is as reliable a shot as we can get. But that’s kind of the nature of the beast for the Thunder. We live and die by Durant and Westbrook, and on nights they struggle, everyone struggles.
4. If the Thunder lose this series, what are the chances that either Westbrook or Scott Brooks (or both) are not in OKC come training camp?
I’m going to stick to my guns and say OKC won’t lose this series, but in the even that happens, I am fully confident we’ll see both Westbrook and Brooks back in the fold next season. While a lot of fans around Oklahoma City see this as “championship or bust”, I don’t think management is to that point yet. This is a young team with a lot of years left to contend, so blowing that up seems silly for now. All that said, I would fully welcome a change at coach long before I gave any sort of approval to dealing Westbrook. I think this team could greatly benefit from a different approach offensively, I would just love to see Brooks be the guy who makes those adjustments. We will see.
5. What is your expectation for Game 4?
I expect to get Memphis’ best shot, as they’re very well aware this game could be a knockout blow of sorts. That said, I just don’t/can’t expect Durant to shoot as poorly as he has in the last two games and I think he wills the Thunder to a win. Westbrook’s energy is where it needs to be and he’ll clean up the shot selection (to a degree), and there’s just no way the bench can play any worse than they did in Game 3. I think we’re going 7 games in this series, and the Thunder winning Game 4 on the road will get the ball rolling in that direction. I’ll be honest and predict another nailbiter, though. As if my heart could take any more.
There you have it, #GrizzNation. We appreciate our friends at ThunderObsessed helping us out and would encourage you all to check out their site and follow them on twitter to get great insight about the Thunder side of this series!
See you Saturday!
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