We saw a different game from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant in Game 3 vs. the Houston Rockets as the Thunder were without Russell Westbrook for the first time in franchise history.
Durant was the primary ball handler for much of the game as he played 47 minutes and scored 41 points to go with 14 rebounds and four assists. Durant shot 13-for-30 from the field and did seemingly everything for a Thunder team that was missing such a big piece.
Durant said after the game that it felt like he was playing street ball handling the ball as much as he did and trying to make something out of nothing on almost every possession.
That’s a great quote but doesn’t say anything great about the Thunder and especially head coach Scott Brooks. The Thunder need to figure out how to play without Westbrook. What happened in Game 3 can’t be the norm going forward because it simply will not work for long.
We’re talking about an NBA team here with one of the most efficient offenses in the league the past two years that looked like a street ball team in a playoff game. How is this possible?
The issue is that the Thunder never really had a very complex offense. There already was a lot of isolation for Durant and Westbrook but they were good enough that it didn’t matter.
Now without Westbrook all of that changes. When the amount of isolation now increases and you just have Durant, the Thunder will not be able to be nearly as efficient.
Brooks needs a find a way to feature Reggie Jackson, Kevin Martin and Serge Ibaka more. We need to see more of Jackson handling the ball in the pick-and-roll and more plays run for Martin trying to get him going.
Part of why they didn’t really get going in Game 3 was that Durant played the whole game and dominated the ball the whole game. That needs to be toned down going forward and these other guys need to step up.
The Thunder will be in real trouble if nothing changes, maybe even in this Houston series.
Game 4 will be tonight in Houston.