Much of the talk surrounding Oklahoma's big seventh game victory over the Memphis Grizzlies will be about Kevin Durant and his clutch 39-point performance.
What really made this win and Durant's performance possible was the superlative play from point guard Russell Westbrook.
If there was a most valuable player awarded for this game I would give it to him, hands down. The biggest thing you can do for your team mates as the point guard is make them better, and he did just that.
Durant got dunks and other open looks because of Westbrook's recognition and floor leadership. So did James Harden, and the rest of his guys.
You could tell that the Grizzlies were confused by it because they were not ready for Westbrook putting his offense on hold to get his teammates going. It caught them totally by surprise.
This took the pressure off of Durant, especially in transition. There were a couple of times that Westbrook had a full head of steam and normally would try to finish the play.
Instead, he gave it up to Durant for a wide-open three that Durant made, and another time he hit Harden who ended up hitting a three. Westbrook is a tremendous offensive and defensive player.
He is one of the best in the league, and will be for a long time. When he plays like he did in this Game 7, he is unstoppable—more importantly, his team is unstoppable.
The Dallas series will be a little different, because Dallas has a lot of guys that will score the ball, so Westbrook is going to have to make them respect his offense.
There is no one on Dallas that they can put on him to slow him down, but he must always be cognizant that they seem to be a better and more fluid team when Durant is in rhythm.
Westbrook has to keep Dallas guessing as to what he is going to do all the time. This will especially benefit Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison. Teams still expect him to think about his offense first.
If they do not know what he will do, it will be hard for them to defend. That was the beauty of his play at the point today. The Grizzlies didn't see this coming. Unexpected alley-oops, passing up shots to get a team mate a better one....I think you get the picture.
Memphis doesn't nap on defense like other teams. They just were not expecting this.
Defensively, Oklahoma City was superb as well. Collison played his best game of the series as Ibaka was a virtual no-show. Durant was spectacular. Harden and Collison were clutch.
But I have to chalk this win up to the great point guard play of Westbrook. As I have stated before, you don't have to do a lot of scoring to dominate and control a game.
He has scored more points in games in this series, but I would argue that his impact in this game was the biggest.