Russell Westbrook hasn't been in uniform during the Western Conference Semifinals, but he's had a significant effect on the series, most notably Game 2.
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Before sustaining the injury, Westbrook was on his way to career playoff-highs as he averaged 24 points, 7.0 assists and 3.0 steals in those contests. Without facing him in the lineup on Tuesday night, the Grizzlies were able to key in on superstar Kevin Durant and make life difficult for this year's scoring champion. When asked about what their focus was going into the game, Tony Allen was quick to point out that they only had one major area of focus defensively:
"Our whole focus was Kevin Durant, he said following the game. "We know what he's capable of."
Durant finished with 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, coming close to his first playoff triple-double and leading all scorers. But he committed five turnovers, including a critical one down the stretch as Allen pulled off a defensive fake that caused him to fall to the ground as the Thunder were down with under two minutes remaining.
Without Westbrook, the offense has to flow through Durant and he has the responsibility to carry the team in his absence. On Tuesday, he fell just short at home but wasn't worried about his ability to do so moving forward and have it translate to wins.
"We feel confident," he said. "We can't put our heads down and be upset because we lost. We just have to keep being positive and keep getting better."
Conley was asked about the absence of Westbrook and whether or not it changed their approach, and the Grizzlies' leader was quick to point out their depth.
"They have a lot of talent on their team," he said.
Allen went a step further.
"We're going to have to scout Derek Fisher more," Allen added. "See how he was killing us."
Quotes via NBA live streaming