The NBA Finals tip off tonight in Oklahoma City and while NBA fans couldn't have asked for a better overall matchup, or a better one-on-one matchup than LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant, it just might be Russell Westbrook who decides the series.
So far in the playoffs Westbrook is averaging 21.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. Those are great numbers, and it's not exactly like Westbrook is some secret weapon. He's part of the Thunder's big three along with Durant and James Harden.
With Durant going head-to-head with James and possibly canceling each other out, it could fall on Westbrook to come up big time and be the key difference. That also depends on who Miami coach Erik Spoelstra assigns to guard Westbrook.
If Dwyane Wade ends up guarding Westbrook for long stretches, that could diminish Wade's offensive output. Anyone who tries to man up on Westbrook finds out quick that it takes a lot of energy to keep up with him. If Miami starts out with Mario Chalmers on Westbrook, then they better ready to help because Chalmers doesn't have the quickness to keep up, but really, who does?
The thing that might, and should, worry Thunder fans is that Westbrook is prone to keep shooting even when he shouldn't be. He's shooting .436 from the floor in the post season, and that's because he'll have nights where he goes 7-21 or 9-24. Games like that can take the rest of the team out of their rhythm. Of course saying that, in game five against the Spurs in the Conference Finals Westbrook was 9-24 but still managed to dish 12 assists to help lead to a victory.
In game four, another OKC win, Westbrook managed only 7 points and 5 assists. He and the Thunder can't afford for him to have games like that in the Finals.
Here's to hoping we get to see some new highlights like these...