The Oklahoma City Thunder’s dynamic duo was broken up this postseason after Russell Westbrook’s injury in Game 2 required knee surgery.
It’s the second break-up this season that the Thunder have had to endure. Their amazing trio that included James Harden was also broken up right before the season.
OKC has had their problems adjusting without Westbrook in this series vs. the Houston Rockets and it’s resulted in them losing the last two games.
Amazingly, Westbrook’s replacement, Reggie Jackson, has produced along with Kevin Durant’s new production very close to what KD and Russ did in the regular season.
Take a look at this:
Durant and Westbrook regular season
73.4 minutes per game
17.2-36.4 field goals (47.3 percent)
14.0-16.3 free throws (85.9 percent)
51.3 points per game
12.0 assists per game
13.1 rebounds per game
6.8 turnovers per game
Durant and Jackson the last three games
75.7 minutes per game
17.7-36.0 field goals (49.2 percent)
16.3-19.4 free throws (84.0 percent)
55.6 points per game
8.0 assists per game
13.0 rebounds per game
7.0 turnovers per game
As you can see, the Durant-Jackson duo has actually been slightly better than Durant-Westbrook were in the regular season in a lot of areas including scoring and field goal percentage.
Ironically, the area of Westbrook’s game that the Thunder miss the most is his passing. The Durant-Jackson duo is averaging just eight assists per game combined while KD and Russ got 12 per game in the regular season.
This totally confirms what we’re seeing in this series. The Thunder are relying on isolation more than ever before. Durant is basically playing point guard for most of the game. The Thunder are ending up taking way more terrible shots than ever before. The spot-up shooters in Kevin Martin, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka have not stepped up. Only Derek Fisher has.
The other area that this doesn’t take into account is Westbrook’s defense. This was the one area that we thought Jackson could do the best job replacing. It’s not as much that he hasn’t either as it also is that the Rockets are going small and the Thunder would have had trouble with this even with Westbrook in the lineup.
It feels like the Thunder are right now in the worst shape they’ve been in a long time. The Rockets have stolen all of the momentum in this series and look like they may actually have a legitimate shot at winning this series.
The big thing that needs to change for the Thunder is the ball movement, which is tough when you basically don’t have a point guard anymore. The Thunder did do a better job of this in Game 5 and have made at least a tiny bit of progress over the last three games.
Just to keep up with Houston, Durant has been playing out of his mind the last three games. If he lets up even a little, the Thunder may not have a chance.
Game 6 is tonight at 8:30 p.m. CST on ESPN.