NBA Finals: Is Russell Westbrook The Reason For Thunder Loss?

Russell Westbrook is not without his flaws, of course, but he's proven to be a pretty good player for the Oklahoma City Thunder over the past couple of seasons. Considering he plays alongside Kevin Durant -- one of the best players in the NBA -- however, he's typically blamed whenever Durant has a solid game that still results in a Thunder loss.

That was the case again, for better or worse, following OKC's loss on Thursday night as the Miami Heat tied the series at one game apiece in the NBA Finals. It wasn't difficult to find national media members putting at least partial blame on Westbrook, but the biggest critic seemed to be CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel.

The story, to me, was the first five minutes of the game, when the Thunder fell and couldn't get up. Why did they fall? Well, Russell Westbrook is why. And that was apparent from the top row of Chesapeake Energy Arena, where I couldn't tell Perkins from Ibaka or Haslem from Bosh, but I could tell something was wrong with Russell Westbrook.

He was hyper. Distracted. Erratic, out of control. He was doing the one thing he does when he's playing poorly -- he was playing too fast, and this is a guy whose speed is one of his greatest attributes. In the Western Conference finals he chased down Spurs blur Tony Parker, making a play Brooks said couldn't be made by more than two or three guys in the world. Playing fast is what Westbrook does, and he does it well.

Playing too fast? It's also what he does from time to time, and it's his worst quality. He is so quick that he can get any shot he wants, whenever he wants it, but he hasn't learned the discretion to choose wisely. And he chose poorly in the first few minutes of Game 2.

Well, yikes. It's true that Westbrook didn't play his best game of basketball on Thursday night -- in his defense, even Durant wasn't flawless -- but it's kind of troubling to see that he's the one being blamed every time something doesn't go right for the Thunder.

For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For Thunder news and notes, visit Welcome To Loud City or check out SB Nation Kansas City. And for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.