We are all used to seeing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go off for huge games, but tonight they had one of their best playoff performances this season.
After an 8-0 start from San Antonio, Durant began to heat up in the first half making 11 of his first 15 shots to help Oklahoma City jump out to a 15 point first half lead. Durant was able to finish the night with 31 points on 50 percent shooting along with five rebounds and five assists.
Westbrook had one of his best all-around games in the playoffs with 40 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals. Westbrook from the tip was able to control the game on both ends. He set the tone defensively early on in the game by applying defensive pressure that helped lead to 12 steals. The Thunder were able to capitalize on steals and blocked shots all night by scoring 21 fast break points while holding San Antonio to none.
On the offensive end, Westbrook seemed almost unstoppable in what was one of his better playoff performances. Westbrook was able to shoot 50 percent from the field by attacking the rim and taking mid-range jump shots rather than taking contested three point attempts. Not only did Westbrook impact the game scoring, but he also got other players involved, giving out 10 assists.
Maybe the biggest statistic of the night though for Durant and Westbrook was the duo only having three combined turnovers on the night while having the ball in their hands for most of the night.
Throughout the playoffs the two, along with the rest of the Thunder team have struggled taking care of the ball. Tonight was a different story with the Thunder only giving the ball up seven times. Also with Westbrook scoring 40 points, many people would think that the Thunder did not move the ball well, but Oklahoma City was able to still work the ball around, which resulted in 22 assists on the night.
Although many of the role players played important roles in the Thunder win, no players beside Durant and Westbrook were able to score double digits. Players like Serge Ibaka and others were able to have huge impacts on the game, especially defensively but for the most part the offensive end was dominated by Durant and Westbrook.
The two superstars combined to score 71 of the Thunder’s 105 points. They also scored or assisted on 87 of the teams 105 points. On the other hand the Spurs’ big three combined for 28 points on the night. This goes back to Westbrook’s ability to lock down things on the perimeter.
In the first couple games Tony Parker was able to run off screens easily, which allowed him to set up his teammates. In the last couple games Westbrook has changed that. Ibaka being back in the lineup has obviously changed things defensively but Westbrook has also played a huge part of the change. Westbrook’s defensive pressure has slowed down Parker, forcing the Spurs to take more difficult shots.
Tonight Parker finished with just four assists, and it was obvious that without his ability to set other players up the Spurs’ starting lineup had a difficult game scoring. Tonight San Antonio’s starting group seemed out of rythym scoring only 39 points on only nine assists, which led to Greg Popovich becoming angry and pulling out his starters in the final minutes of the third quarter.
All together the Thunder played one of its best games, but the two superstars no doubt stole the show. Throughout the night the duo was able to control the game in almost every way, while also doing it without seeming to take others out of the game offensively.