Thunder vs. Spurs: San Antonio Will Extinguish Russell Westbrook's Hot Streak
Gregg Popovich is a genius.
The San Antonio Spurs head coach knows how to turn a group of individual player into a team better than anyone. When the Spurs face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, expect Popovich’s troops to target and shut down Russell Westbrook.
OKC’s point guard is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. While Westbrook is a physical freak, he makes mental mistakes often. His assist-to-turnover ratio and shot selection are suspect at best.
Popovich won’t fail to take advantage of his weaknesses.
In the regular season, Westbrook finished ranked 63rd in the NBA with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.52. Comparatively, Tony Parker boasts a 3.03 assist-to-turnover ratio. Westbrook also shot 45.7 percent from the field, and while that number rose during the postseason, he won’t be matched up with Ramon Sessions against the Spurs.
Will Spurs shut down Westbrook?
San Antonio’s defense is simply a different animal—just ask Chris Paul. The Los Angeles Clippers floor general’s production plummeted in the series sweep. Against Parker and company, CP3 averaged 7.0 fewer points, 1.2 fewer assists and 2.4 more turnovers per game than he did in the regular season.
If Paul—arguably the league’s most complete point guard—failed to escape the wrath of the Spurs, the erratic Westbrook will be eaten alive.
I take you back to last season when the Dallas Mavericks rolled over the Thunder on their way to an NBA Finals berth. What were OKC’s criticisms? Westbrook’s immaturity, Westbrook’s poor shot selection and Westbrook’s ability to run an offense.
Soon enough, the same critiques will arise. James Harden’s playmaking ability won’t simmer the skeptics either. As soon as Westbrook’s struggles lead to losses, fans will be calling for Harden to run point—not that it hasn’t already started (via @RealSkipBayless).
James Harden should be named more than just the NBA's 6th Man of Year. He should be named starting point guard for the Thunder.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 11, 2012
Westbrook is a skilled scorer, but he doesn’t fit well alongside Kevin Durant, and that’ll be exposed when the Thunder run into the wall that is the league most underrated team.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.
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