Russell Westbrook's real playoff foe isn't James Harden

Posted April 24, 2017

Russell Westbrook missed 17 of 23 shot attempts in Houston's 118-87 Game 1 beatdown of OKC, but the Thunder superstar refuses to concede that Patrick Beverley (or any other Rockets defender, for that matter) had anything to do with his struggles.

Thunder forward Andre Roberson largely stymied Harden, limiting him to 20.5 points (with a 48.3 true shooting percentage), 7.3 rebounds and 12.3 assists per game. Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook set the all-time record with 42 triple-doubles while Houston star point guard James Harden also enjoyed a tremendous campaign and recorded 22 triple-doubles.

"He does it every game", said Harden, who finished with 37 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists.

Unfortunately for Harden, the MVP race is over and all votes have been turned in, because there would undoubtedly have been some that would have loved to use this series as a referendum on who is better between the two and he now has a significant leg up in that head-to-head competition.

The only triple-doubles that Beverley keeps track of include scratching, kicking and annoying the hell out of everyone. "Just try to make it tough on him, try to make him shoot a lot of contested threes, and tonight I guess we got lucky". Many people don't enjoy watching Harden's game.

The best-of-seven Western Conference series continues Wednesday night in Houston.

For Houston coach Mike D'Antoni, it's the first postseason win since April 27, 2008, with Phoenix. We were just absolutely garbage. "I've been hit with many screens before, so, on to the next play", he added. The Rockets outrebounded the Thunder 56-41 and they completely dominated points in the paint (62-38) and second-chance points (31-4).

That's the outcome an average human would have after being flattened by a Steven Adams screen early in the third quarter of Game 1 against the Thunder.

When prodded about what makes Westbrook so good, Harden provided some praise for the fellow point guard. "We need to do a better job of rotationally blocking out".

Both Westbrook and James were supporters of a Kevin Durant's led OKC in 2012 in which it entered into the National Basketball Association finals, losing to the Miami Heat. At the end of the night, he just stood on the court seemingly standing and waiting for something more to happen. Defensively, the Rockets are yielding 109.6 points per game against the opposing teams.

"I thought you guys competed well".

Smart money would say Kanter will still play a role in this series for Oklahoma City - he's too important to the team; but against the Rockets and that system, the leash may become shorter by the day. Rusell Westbrook is fun to watch, but he is not the MVP ... he's like that surfer who looks incredible at first, but when you wait for him to emerge from that final, big curl all you see are a flying surfboard and a pair of trunks. They came out extremely slow to start the game, and they got very little offensively from some usual major contributors.

The Rockets are a different animal from most in the league - especially compared to the Spurs of last season.