OKLAHOMA CITY — Basketball is a team game. It is not an individual sport. Five players make up a team. I don’t dare blame the OKC Thunder’s early exit from the playoffs on the fact that they lost Russell Westbrook to an injury in the first round against the Houston Rockets. But I will say that with him they stood a much better chance at advancing into the Western Conference Finals and probably even to the NBA Finals. Injuries are a part of every sport, however, and Westbrook just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
As good of a player that Kevin Durant is, he just couldn’t negate the fact that Westbrook wasn’t on the court anymore. He shot poorly for most of the series and his teammates didn’t step up that way they should have. It seemed they were content to stand around and watch Durant try to take on the Grizzlies by himself. For a team that shot around 50 percent for the season, the Thunder just didn’t shoot the ball well at all in this series, which ended Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena with the Grizzlies ending the Thunder's season with an 88-84 Game 5 victory. And that says as much about the Grizzlies’ defense as it does that Westbrook was missing from the Thunder lineup.