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.
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