Survive and advance.
It's a mantra that's been beaten to death over the past two weeks, but one that Scott Brooks never anticipated selling to his team so soon.
A 103-94 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 6 kept his club from complete disaster, but the Oklahoma City Thunder have begun to come apart in Russell Westbrook's absence. Kevin Durant is doing his darndest to keep OKC afloat, with averages of 35.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists in the four games since Russ went down.
His 4.5 turnovers per game in this series and his uneven performance in Game 5 (1-8 from three, scoreless in the fourth quarter) point to a player who's still getting the hang of this whole "jack-of-all-trades" thing.
And one who can't carry a team to the Promised Land all by his lonesome. Some serious scoring from Kevin Martin (25 points in Game 6) and Reggie Jackson (17 points in Game 6) would help to ease Durant's burden, as would support from OKC's defense. The Thunder struggled to slow down the Rockets in Games 2 through 5, allowing Houston to outshoot them and top the 100-point plateau each time.
OKC showed a measure of improvement in Game 6, when they limited the Rockets to just 94 points on 41.1 percent shooting in the series-clincher. But Houston's 14 threes in that contest ensured that the sirens would continue to scream as the Thunder prepare for a matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies.
They recovered in time to hold the potent Houston Rockets to just 94 points on 41.1 percent shooting in the series-clincher. But 14 Houston long-range bombs in Game 6 did nothing to quiet the alarms sounded after the Rockets outshot the Thunder and topped the 100-point plateau in each of the previous four games of the series.
Should Brooks pack defibrillators for Round 2? Or are Kevin Durant and company ready to show that they can survive just fine without Westbrook?