James Harden and Russell Westbrook take unusual step during 1st round clash
Apr 21 2017 by Dustin Murphy
The stars got their numbers, 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists for Westbrook, while Harden gave the Rockets 37 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists, but it was Beverley who was the most significant player on the floor.
Jeff Van Gundy, a former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets head coach, will be a commentator on ESPN's coverage of Game 3 and ABC's coverage of Game 4 of the Thunder-Rockets series, working with Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and reporter Lisa Salters. Harden fought through a rough start, which included three air-balled shots early to regain composure and take control of the game in the second quarter.
Without getting nit-picky, the Thunder lost by 31 points, and the Rockets didn't even play that well from a lot of standpoints. In Game 1, Houston had seven more offensive rebounds than Oklahoma City. Tonight was a game where defensively we played really, really well. By the end of the third, the result still seemed likely, as Westbrook added on four monstrous rebounds (bringing him to ten), and two more assists.
The OKC Thunder must have more people step up if they expect to have any chance in this series. The Thunder have shown bounce-back ability all season, going 13-8 in games immediately following a double-digit loss. Scoring six points is not very acceptable for a guy who is making over 80 million dollars starting next season.
Steven Adams: Adams can take over a series with his rim protection, pick and roll defense, and rebounding. I would counter by asking you what the chances are that Roberson turns in to a good shooter in the playoffs? "As long as we hang our hat on defense and we lock in and we know the game plan". Russell Westbrook has joined Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players in National Basketball Association history to average a triple-double for an entire season by leading the league with 31.6 points along with 10.4 assists, and 10.7 rebounds. In Game 2, however, it's possible that the Thunder might go in a completely different direction.
Rebounding is a huge key to winning.
Russ also finished with 11 rebounds and 7 assists, which was nearly a triple double, which just goes to show how worthless that stat line can be unless put into the proper context of actual wins on the court.
Shooting will be a big key as well.
One of the most obvious ways to create this downhill momentum has been pushing the ball in transition - the Thunder had the fifth-shortest average possession length this season (per Inpredictable) and used the fourth-highest percentage of their offensive possessions in transition (per the NBA's play type statistics).
The best-of-seven Western Conference series continues Wednesday night in Houston. While they wouldn't be where they are without Westbrook, they also help to pad his stats as well.
When Russell Westbrook is out of the game, the Thunder seems to fall apart, but in the fourth quarter of Game 2 he seemed to get exhausted.
James Harden was absolutely scintillating and played perhaps the best playoff game of his career.