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2011 NBA Playoffs Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets, Game 5

Roberto PayneContributor IApril 28, 2011

2011 NBA Playoffs Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets, Game 5

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 25:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a layup as Nene #31 of the Denver Nuggets contests the shot in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on April 25, 20
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    This series has been one of the better of the first round matchups, and it could end today. The Oklahoma City Thunder can close it out at home and they should have the advantage.

    The Denver Nuggets are in must-win mode and their season is on the line.

    Will the Thunder play strong and close the series? Or will the Nuggets stay alive and send it back the the Pepsi Center? Read on for the answers to these questions and more.

How Game Four Was Won

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 25:  Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets dribbes the ball against Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in De
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Nuggets got a huge game out of Ty Lawson and major production from the bench. Lawson had 27 points and the bench had 30 points. Specifically. Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith were the catalysts off the bench, with both scoring over 10 points a piece. Also Denver's starting frontcourt was very solid on the boards, grabbing 24 total rebounds.

    The Thunder simply did not get enough production out of everyone not named Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook. Serge Ibaka had another huge game with 13 points and 14 rebounds, but no one else had more then seven points.

    Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson closed out the game at the free throw line and the Nuggets pulled it out 104-101.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Keys to a Game Five Victory

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 25:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder heads up court against the Denver Nuggets in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Nu
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Once again, Durant and Westbrook played fantastic but they had little help. Ibaka played well but the bench needs to step it up and play consistently.

    Either James Harden or Nick Collison needs to have double digit scoring in the game. Someone needs to step up and be the fourth scorer behind Durant, Westbrook, or Ibaka.

    They should have a great chance to win at home. There is no way they want to have to go back to a raucous game six at the Pepsi Center and they should play as such.

Denver Nuggets: Keys to a Game Five Victory

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 25:  Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets and Raymond Felton #20 of the Denver Nuggets celebrate late in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Nuggets need a complete game in order to save their season and send it back to their place for game six. The starting lineup has been better as of late but they need to sustain their good effort from game four.

    Wilson Chandler played only eight minutes in game four and did not make a field goal. I feel like I have said this in each prediction but I'll say it again: Wilson Chandler needs to step up.

    He is a great player but this has been a series to forget for him. If Chandler, once again, does not play well then the Nuggets will be in trouble. If this is coupled with a lack of production from the rest of the bench, then game five will not be pretty for the Nuggets.

    They also need to work on keeping the Thunder off the boards, they have been out rebounded in each game.

Who Will Win Game Five?

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 25:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts to a call a the Thunder face the Denver Nuggets in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Col
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Thunder are going to try their hardest to close the series at home but the Nuggets are going to have to try even harder to save their season. This should be a heated game and should come down to the wire.

    The Thunder are simply going to ride the energy of the home crowd and will win the game.

    Thunder win 99-95

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