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Thunder's Westbrook focused on playoffs, not historic season

Thunder's Westbrook focused on playoffs, not historic season”

With two sixth man of the year candidates in Eric Gordon and Lou Williams, along with Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza and Harden, they fired an unbelievable 40.1 three-pointers per game in the regular season - making an National Basketball Association record 1,181 of them.

That's part of the fascination with this series, with a matchup that could be the most entertaining of the NBA's first round.

He's facing another player who gets triple-doubles in bunches.

"Playing against the best players in the world, at the biggest stage, that's the goal for every player", Durant said. Harden is using this argument against Westbrook, who led his team to the sixth seed in the West and the 10th best overall record in the league. With sports like baseball, where you play so many games and it is hard to make your teammates better, giving the MVP to someone excellent on a lousy team, like Mike Trout on the Angels, is understandable. Nearly immediately, the previously underwhelming roster blossomed. The Houston Rockets finished at 55-27 this year, 15 games better than most preseason predictions. However, that does not guarantee Houston a series win.

The Rockets have the better team.

And you get with a certain team.

But first, a Westbrook-sized obstacle lies ahead of the Rockets. For one, it's unlikely that Harden will be guarding Westbrook much as Patrick Beverley will likely be the man to take that challenge.

Well, let's get started, shall we? It sounds silly, perhaps, but even during some of Westbrook's most heroic regular season performances, he couldn't always pull it off against some of the league's elite franchises. Defending Westbrook isn't just a one-on-one battle though and it goes without saying that when he gets up to full steam, the interior defenders will need to step up and help as well.

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Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook shoots the ball during the second half of a game against the Denver Nuggets.

The Thunder certainly can't be counted out, given the way Westbrook has carried them all season long.

Westbrook broke Robertson's record on Sunday. From that sense, it's easy to say that the Thunder are predictable and that it should be easy to figure out how to stop a team that is predicated on its defense first and foremost. If Westbrook's unmovable mass can help the Thunder steal a game on the road, all bets are off in what should be one of the playoffs' highest scoring series.

Harden played 81 games this season, missing only one practice, the first one after the All-Star break, and one game with the flu. Roberson is one of the league's best perimeter defenders and if he can impact some of Harden's fluid effortlessness, the series has potential to go down as a classic.

In the last 12 months Westbrook, Adams, and Oladipo have all committed their futures to the franchise and Sam Presti has done some impressive work to be able to bring in a lot of fresh, young faces. The Thunder would be silly not to throw Harden in pick and rolls and hope for a slip so Adams can catch a lob pass on the roll or Westbrook can get to the rim. There's no question that each player is going to be the difference between an early exit or a sustained playoff run but the Rockets taking on the Thunder figures to be the most compelling first-round series in the postseason thanks to each team's style matching up well with the other.

Oklahoma City is winning games on the defensive end, finishing 10th in points allowed per possession.

OKC fan: Oh look the Rockets fans are chanting for Westbrook!



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