With the Oklahoma City Thunder losing back to back games and now trailing the Memphis Grizzlies in their first round playoff series 2-1, there has been plenty of talk centered around the Thunder and their issues on the offensive end against the “grit and grind” Grizzlies.
In particular, the criticism has been squarely (and unfairly) aimed at Russell Westbrook and his shot selection during this series. It has been a common theme for Westbrook throughout his career and is a polarizing issue with NBA fans, analysts and writers.
Not surprisingly, Westbrook went on the offensive when criticism was running rampant after the Thunder’s Game 3 loss in overtime to the Grizzlies.
“I feel like [the media] tries to pull us apart,” Westbrook said Friday. “When nobody is getting their shots, you all try to find a reason in between all of us. You try to find whose fault it is. One person didn’t lose, we all lost.”
He went on to address the fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder offense is based around Kevin Durant and that everyone has to play better in order to achieve results.
The third option on the offensive end is Serge Ibaka, and he has had a relatively solid series. He has guarded the low block making life difficult for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and he has protected the rim and rebounded well. He has also shot the ball well – in limited attempts.
He didn’t take a shot in the fourth quarter or overtime of Game 2 and he took just one shot in the fourth quarter (none in overtime) in Game 3.
The Thunder offense is struggling right now, but largely that is due to some pretty decent defense by the Memphis Grizzlies and OKC not being able to knock down the shots they are getting. That will need to change if they want to avoid a Game 4 loss.
“Nobody is perfect — not me, not Kevin, not anybody,” Westbrook said. “You want your teammates to make shots, but when the game is on the line you’ve got to make decisions.”
These decisions are going to be all the more important in what is a “do-or-die” game in the Grindhouse.
Westbrook is backing himself, his superstar teammate Kevin Durant and the rest of the team to do what they need to do in order to win games of basketball. They will get the opportunity to silence the critics and dull the media drama in Game 4. Let’s hope the Thunder can do so and head back to Chesapeake Arena with a tied series.