It’s time to head to OKC for the biggest test in the last few weeks for the San Antonio Spurs.
Heading into tonight, San Antonio boasts an impressive 11-game win streak, but the Thunder are rested and ready to run the Spurs out of town.
Oklahoma City let their All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook take the night off on a Sunday night win against a pitiful Utah team. Having played nine straight games since coming back from his season-ending knee surgery of late last year, Westbrook has been on a mission to prove he has no post-injury psychotherapy setbacks.
With a stat line of 22-5-5 and a ridiculous last-second pull up 3 to put an apparent dagger into a hot Golden State team (ultimately resulting in a loss due to a buzzer-beating
Iguodala turn-around), Westbrook is taking no precautions in letting everyone know he’s back to being the point guard we all have come to, well, hate.
I say that last statement with a grain of salt, of course; plenty of people bewilderingly love Westbrook. I mean, what’s not to love about a point guard that takes the last shot over All-NBA first teamer Kevin Durant? And how can you not adore the exuberant tantrums he throws when the ball just won’t go through the hoop, no matter the times he throws it at the rim?
This is all sarcastic and cynical of course, mostly out of pure envy of the man. No one understands his game; the critics are always against him, yet Russell Westbrook sticks with his strategy with the utmost praise and acceptance from his coach and teammates.
Oh yeah. The Thunder are pretty good at winning games too because of the spastic play by their point guard.
If there were ever an anti-hero to the entirety of the Spurs’ philosophy, it is Russell Westbrook. He historically has picked apart the San Antonio defense with his tandem attack of pull up midrange shots and slashing attacks at the basket. Tony Parker is quick, but it’s pretty well known that quickness alone isn’t good enough in stopping the pure athleticism of Russell Westbrook.
Looking ahead to the game, the game plan should be to stop Westbrook at all costs. Kawhi Leonard will be on Durant, making the MVP runner-up work for his stats. Leonard’s length will be key in slowing down Durant, but all in all, expect Durant to get his 26-30.
As for Westbrook, help defense will be key. Westbrook can easily blow by the defender off the pick and roll, but met properly by jumping the screen, San Antonio can force the point guard into some tricky traps that just might lead to some quick fast break points.
If San Antonio can frustrate Westbrook enough by forcing some miscues, it may just win them the game.
Or it just might get them killed. Westbrook is notorious for having emotionally horrendous games while struggling as well as emotionally monstrous games after getting angry, exploding for 50+ points in a Hulk-esque fury.
You just never know what you’re going to see from Russell Westbrook. It may come down to the luck of the draw tonight with the Spurs catching Westbrook on an off game, but if the Spurs’ team defense plays as it has been playing for the last three weeks, Westbrook can effectively be controlled.
It will be a tough test, but the Spurs continue to prove that they have what it takes to win the West. Tonight could be a defining game in determining just how good this Spurs team is.
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