Russell Westbrook presents utterly a conundrum.
If Westbrook plays with such a monopolistic character that he takes 43 of a Thunder’s 97 shots in a game, and 22 of a Thunder’s 34 sharpened security in a fourth quarter, this Oklahoma City group can't win — not with Westbrook forcing attempts opposite good assistance and straight-up defense.
If Westbrook doesn’t play like that, if he passes some-more and relies on his teammates to take a bulk of shots, this Oklahoma City group can't win.
The Thunder are cursed if he does and cursed if he doesn’t.
Westbrook shot 4-18 in a fourth quarter, including 1-7 from three. That fact is going to get loads of courtesy as a universe processes Westbrook’s beast box measure (51 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds) in a face of a loss. This was a top scoring triple-double in NBA playoff history. But it looked like Westbrook was sharpened a Thunder out of a diversion late as so few shots went down.
A series that will expected get reduction courtesy is -15. That was Oklahoma City’s scoring domain in a 6 mins and 38 seconds that Westbrook sat on a bench. In a 41 mins and 22 seconds Westbrook played, a Thunder outscored a Rockets by 11 points.
Being outscored by 15 points in reduction than 7 mins is some kind of feat. But that’s how light on descent options a Thunder are yet Westbrook using a team. Westbrook is a offense, for improved or worse. When he’s off a court, a Thunder can’t put points on a board. When he’s on a justice yet ice cold, a Thunder can’t put points on a board. That’s usually a elementary inlet of this team.
In years past, if Westbrook couldn’t find purify looks late in a game, he could let Kevin Durant take a few stabs during it. It worked famously good for a twin (though break time security always finished adult a bit predictable). That’s a oppulance Oklahoma City no longer has.
Victor Oladipo is deferential, maybe to a fault. He upheld adult decent looks to get Westbrook a ball. Perhaps that is an sequence from a bench. Perhaps it is a demand, oral or not, from Westbrook. But it is what is. Westbrook is a scorer. The Thunder indispensable points, and no one else was volunteering to get them. What else was Westbrook ostensible to do?
There is an evidence that Westbrook’s unequivocally character has tiny his teammates’ growth this year, that Westbrook’s huge ardour for shots, control, and all on offense is the reason Oladipo, Steven Adams and Enes Kanter aren’t contributing more. It’s loyal that Adams and Kanter have regressed. But how many of that is due to Westbrook perplexing to say his effort while stuffing a Durant-sized void, and how many is simply due to a Durant-sized void?
Prior to Durant’s departure, Westbrook was ball-dominant and shot-heavy. But he and Durant captivated so many defensive courtesy that anticipating space on a pick-and-roll, off a round or on dives was many some-more simple. Cutting that energetic twin in half severely reduced a series of problems hostile defenses have to understanding with. When Westbrook has a ball, there’s no longer an MVP claimant to stay during home on. There is Andre Roberson. There is Victor Oladipo. There is Doug McDermott. Help on Westbrook or on a rolling large man, or stay during home opposite shooters who can’t harm we too bad? It’s an easy choice. It creates a Thunder easier to urge than when Durant floated around, something passed elementary to understand.
As evidenced in a shutting mins of Game 2, as a Rockets surged behind to win, there are few easy halfcourt security for a Thunder opposite good competition. Westbrook looked tired, and while a Rockets aren’t good defensively Houston has some good defenders. There are positively particular Westbrook shots — several of them, maybe some-more — we could indicate out as objectively bad. Most of them had Westbrook groping for tainted calls, possibly on a fringe or during a rim. The officials let many of those attempts slip by yet a whistle. (They also let a blatant over-and-back that led to Westbrook’s usually 3 of a fourth slip by. Things even out.)
The NBA has mostly modernized past favourite ball, led by a analytic series and LeBron James, a G.O.A.T. claimant who indeed likes to pass in a biggest moments of basketball. This deteriorate saw a reversal to favourite round in some ways, yet with a twist. Harden led a joining in assists yet also scored roughly 30 per game. Westbrook averaged a triple-double yet was also a scoring champion.
Fittingly, those dual players cruise themselves of a Kobe Bryant lineage. Kobe late a year ago yet his bequest will live on until a LeBron origin comes of age. The Kobe tree claims Harden and Westbrook and Paul George (who asserted he needs to get a biggest shots for a Pacers final weekend), Isaiah Thomas (a indicate ensure who averaged 29 points per diversion this season), Durant (a four-time scoring champ whose attribute with co-stars is complicated), and a few others.
These players, Westbrook especially, came of age study Kobe. They watched him have unusual and unusually confidant playoff games. It burnished off. That’s since we see Westbrook sharpened 18 shots in a entertain when he’s ice cold. That, and a fact that we see his group transport so feeble when he’s not winning everything. Kobe in a post-Shaq and pre-Pau days would positively have finished what Westbrook did on Wednesday. And a Lakers would have lost, too. Did anyone direct that Smush Parker or Devean George get some of those looks?
There’s usually no other approach for this to go for a Thunder. They are going to remove since they are not as good as a best teams in a Western Conference. It happens. Blessed are a some-more talented. Oklahoma City can remove with Westbrook blank a garland of shots, or Oklahoma City can remove with a other Thunder players blank a garland of shots. There unequivocally aren’t any other options opposite good competition.
Fault Westbrook if we must. Blame predestine or Sam Presti if we can’t mount to sully Russ. Neither fortitude improves a Thunder’s reality. This is who they are.
Do you have an unusual story to tell? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org