Thunder's Westbrook focused on playoffs, not historic season

BUY THIS IMAGE

BUY THIS IMAGE

It was the way he saw the floor.

The Clippers will take another crack at it beginning against the Utah Jazz and their emerging French big man Rudy Gobert.

Look through all the advanced metrics in MVP debates, all the arguments about how good teams need to be, or how much the playoffs matter, or how much one on one would matter.

Who do you think will win the series? Despite what others have said about Houston Rockets' star James Harden deserving the NBA MVP award, Robertson said Westbrook is the MVP in his book. Westbrook has posted five triple-doubles in those games, including two this season.

Westbrook ended a scoring drought of nearly 3 1/2 minutes for the Thunder with a layup, but Houston used an 8-2 spurt — highlighted by a 3 from Eric Gordon — to push the lead to 81-68 with just more than three minutes remaining in the third.

But while Westbrook is still the extreme, triple-doubles in general are just not as unique as they used to be.

In addition to bringing in Jerami Grant three games into the season, the Thunder made further moves in Spring by trading in Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott. No matter if they're exhausted. Steven Adams really has to step up and hit the glass for OKC to have a chance, especially if the Rockets aren't hitting their threes...and they shoot a TON of them.

I've gone back and forth throughout the season.

They've done it all season. That's an accomplishment that has been 55 long years in the brewing and which many believed might never be achieved again.

Often their paths were parallel.

The key difference is that Harden has a much more capable supporting cast ready on the perimeter awaiting the multiple open looks he's inevitably going to serve up.

At a significant juncture, they intersected. Westbrook held it as Robertson ended his message with a sentiment Thunder fans appreciated. Some had the same complaint a year later when Harden was OKC's pick.

After Kevin Durant's unceremonious departure last summer, a new ruthless Westbrook emerged from the ashes of a broken-hearted franchise to lead the Thunder to a better-than-anticipated 47-35 record.

Less than five months later, Harden was in Houston.

It's a big if, but after what we've seen from this side and their fearless leader - anything is possible. Don't get me wrong; Olajuwon took it to Mr. Robinson's neighborhood and left with the property rights. Despite being somewhat overshadowed by Westbrook's tidy triple-double count, Harden still managed to stuff the box score all season, averaging 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and a staggering 11.2 assists per contest, a league-high.

Orchestrated by Mike D'Antoni, the Rockets surrounded Harden with some of the league's most lethal shooters after letting Dwight Howard walk in unrestricted free agency last summer.

Golden State put their All-Star backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson against Portland's own impressive guard duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in the opening round against the Blazers. Though his workload increased, Westbrook's productivity did, too. That streak is eight seasons longer than any other National Basketball Association franchise ever posted, and also the longest in any North American major pro sport (the Montreal Canadiens and San Francisco 49ers had winning percentages of.600 or better in 16 consecutive seasons). The Spurs won 62 games, grabbing the best record in basketball. Westbrook was more dynamic in the clutch.

For the Rockets, their gameplan should be simple enough: let Westbrook get his. When Houston visited Oklahoma City for the first time this season, Westbrook gave Harden a pregame pat on the shoulder at the scorer's table, a friendly gesture that by Westbrook's standards qualifies as grand.

Latest News