Just Not Enough: OKC Faces Potential First Round Exit
NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook didn’t celebrate his monumental night after the Oklahoma City Thunder sputtered in Game 2 of the 2017 Playoffs. Westbrook stuffed the stat sheet with 51 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, etching his name into history as the highest scoring 50+ point triple-double in playoff history. Dejected, the two-time Olympic gold medalist lamented, “I don’t give a f--- about the line. We lost,” Westbrook said at the post-game press conference following a dismal 4-for-18 shooting in the fourth quarter. (ESPN) Thunder head coach Billy Donovan had no choice but to re-insert his franchise player for the entire fourth quarter, forgoing his customary rest period after the Houston Rockets went on a 12-3 run to close out the third; that’s when he and everyone else realized Westbrook is human, not a machine.
SI.com staff writer Ben Golliver hit the nail on the head, tweeting “Thunder’s Russell Westbrook’s Usage % for Game 2 loss to Rockets: 55.3%,” translation, his teammates are watching him play instead of playing alongside him. According to ESPN’s Chance to Win Series prediction pie chart, the Houston Rockets have a 25% chance of sweeping the series in four games and a 93% chance of winning series based on BPI.
Why are they struggling?
The Thunder can’t win the same way LeBron James couldn’t win a championship in Cleveland without the complimentary play of Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and J.R. Smith; team’s win playoff series, not individuals, hence comedian Jonny Loquasto’s timely jab on Twitter, “Russell Westbrook: ‘Man, I’d sure like to get a triple double AND win a playoff game.’ LeBron: ‘Hold my beer…’ #NBAPlayoffs.”
Since no one player can pass the ball to themselves, having a complete lineup of effective defense and offensive production is a pre-requisite to winning a playoff game, much less a championship. Westbrook has averaged 31.6 points, 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds in the regular season, leading the league with an astounding 42 regular season triple-doubles. Here’s the thing, it all starts and ends with number 0, “(Westbrook’s) a tremendous player, but as far as the game, he was trying to do too much, @Hoophall Hakeem Olajuwon bit.ly/2pH6Ufv,” The Undefeated Senior NBA Writer Marc Spears tweeted.
As the series shifts to The Sooner State, it will be interesting to see if the hometown crowd can elevate their lackluster Thunder back into this series; short of a miracle the Thunder’s hopes for a postseason run and Westbrook’s hopes for MVP will be a distant memory like Kevin Durant if the team goes down 0-3 in the series.