Oklahoma City Thunder (6) @ Houston Rockets (1): 111 – 97 HOU (2 – 0)
I may be in the minority here, but does anyone else feel like Westbrook’s hero ball performance was a bit forced? We get it, he put up a monster triple double (50/13/10) and everyone will get carried away with the numbers, but I’m more appalled with this whole notion that he’s surrounded with no help whatsoever. Yes, he is the heart and soul of that team, he flat out makes them go, but a leader is supposed to elevate the performance of those around him, not just himself. The postseason stresses the importance of TEAM execution, and the Thunder hardly look united when you consider Westbrook took an insane 44% of the team’s attempts last night on 39.5% shooting (18% on 3’s). You can be lazy and try to tell me that he’s doing this because he HAS to and my response to you is that he’s playing with tunnel vision. Don’t believe me? Here’s a compilation of Westbrook taking difficult, low percentage looks instead of dishing to a wide open teammate for better opportunities (shoutout to /u/notconquered for posting this). The 4th quarter of last night’s game is a perfect example of a player simply not trusting his teammates to do much of anything, as Westbrook would go for an abysmal 4 of 18 down the stretch. The rest of the team would take just 12, as the Thunder combined for a horrendous 23% shooting percentage in crunch-time. The next highest was Andre Roberson of all people, who surprisingly shot 6 of 12 for 12 points. The irony in this situation is the fine line Westbrook walks as he obviously carries his team to be in these close situations, but can also shoot them out of them due to his ‘me first’ mentality. This isn’t the first time Russ has played similar to what you’d expect to see on NBA 2k’s MyCareer mode, but clearly it’s going to take a more well rounded effort and trust in his teammates for the Thunder to stand a chance. Playing like this only zaps the confidence out of the other four guys on the court. Altogether, there’s plenty of accountability to go around for these two losses at Houston, no one should be exempt. Guys like Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo and Enes Kanter among others need to rise to the occasion and play up to the fucking contracts that OKC shelled out for their services. Russ needs to stop playing like its him vs. the world, and instead play with the efficiency and leadership that is expected of an MVP.
Problematik’s Predictions: Next stop: San Antonio, HOU wins 4-2
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images