The Oklahoma City Thunder, once considered among the top threats to upset the defending champion Golden State Warriors, have their backs against the wall in the first round of the playoffs after three straight games to the Utah Jazz. 

Staring down a 3-1 series deficit and the possibility of bowing out in the first round for a second straight year, the Thunder have another problem to worry about: they may be without their best player.

Monday night’s loss in Utah included some heated moments between the two squads and could lead to a suspension for star point guard Russell Westbrook. The NBA is reportedly reviewing whether Westbrook should be punished for violating a rule by leaving the bench to get involved in an altercation.

In the fourth quarter, Thunder guard Raymond Felton gave a hard foul to Jazz center Rudy Gobert, causing him to go down in pain. He eventually got up and walked it off.

But Westbrook, whose presence is unclear in video footage, reportedly gave him “a quick slap” in the ensuing fracas.

The issue is whether Westbrook was technically in the game. He was due to check in when the foul occurred. The NBA is reviewing whether or not an official waved him onto the court. If it was ruled that Westbrook left the bench to be involved in the altercation he will be suspended for Game 5.

The Thunder face a difficult task with or without Westbrook. Only 11 teams have come back from a 3-1 series deficit. 

It's been an overall disappointing season for Billy Donovan's squad. The Thunder finished with just one more win than in 2016-17, despite adding star forwards Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

There was some hope the Thunder would turn things around in the playoffs, but Oklahoma City has struggled against Utah's tough defense. Westbrook has shot just 36.7 from the field in the series, while Anthony has shot 37.3 percent. 

GettyImages-950524740 The NBA is apparently looking into whether or not Russell Westbrook should be suspended for game five. Pictured above is Westbrook guarded by Joe Ingles during game four of the Thunder's series against the Jazz. Photo: Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images