This monster run by Russell Westbrook might end up hurting the Thunder in the playoffs. I’m not saying he’s being selfish because he is averaging 8.2 apg. Yes he is taking a lot of shots but I fear he might be worn out if the Thunder make it to the second round of the playoffs.
Westbrook is playing some of the best basketball of his life. He’s had four straight triple-doubles and now leads the league in scoring. He is willing his team to victories and he plays with so much energy he might not have enough when it really counts.
Let’s go back and look at the game against Phoenix on February 26th. Westbrook dominates with 39 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. However he plays 43 minutes and takes 38 shots. The four other starters combined took 31 shots. The Thunder ended up losing that game. It was not Westbrook’s fault but his teammates did not step their game up.
The next night they take on the Blazers. Westbrook drops 40, 13 and 11 on them. He plays 37 minutes and takes 32 shots. The other four starters take 26 shots. The Thunder lost this game and Westbrook gets hurt at the end of the game.
In his last three games Westbrook is averaging 34 shots a game. The Thunder are 1-2 in those games. Westbrook is still getting his assists but he needs to focus on getting Serge Ibaka involved more often.
With this run by Westbrook and Kevin Durant’s MVP last season we forget that the Thunder has Serge Ibaka. This is supposed to be their big three. Ibaka has yet to step his game up when Durant or Westbrook is out.
In two games against the Pacers and Nuggets Westbrook took a combined 31 shots. He had a triple-double against the Pacers but he only scored 20 points. He had a combined 27 assists in those two games and he didn’t play more than 30 minutes in either game. Both wins by the Thunder.
In those same two games Ibaka took 29 shots. Ibaka should not take more shots than Westbrook but when he is involved the game is easier for the Thunder. Those two games were the first time all season that Ibaka had scored more than 20 points in back-to-back games.
Ibaka’s scoring, rebounding and shooting percentages are down this season. He’s taking 12 shots a game just like last season. However he is taking a bunch of three pointers. Ibaka should be getting more shots up with Durant out.
Last night against the Sixers Ibaka took just five shots before fouling out and Westbrook took 33. Against a bad team like the Sixers the Thunder were able to get a victory with Westbrook taking all those shots. Against good teams in Portland and Phoenix the Thunder lost those games.
When Durant returns Westbrook won’t take as many shots because the Thunder will want to get Durant involved and ready for the playoffs. Ibaka’s numbers might take a dip during that time and they shouldn’t.
Westbrook has been great this season without Durant. But just like in year’s past in the playoffs the Thunder will need more than Westbrook and Durant if they want to make a Finals run. Without Westbrook, Durant was worn against the Grizzlies during the 2012-13 postseason.
Last season the Thunder were ran off the floor by the Spurs when Ibaka didn’t play. He just might be the key for the Thunder in the playoffs.