Russell Westbrook is one of the most electrifying players in NBA History. During his 11 seasons in the association, he’s played in the NBA Finals, won an MVP, and became the second player in the history of the league to average a Triple-Double for an entire season. Another chapter in Brodie’s Hall-of-Fame story will be written tonight, it just may end up being the worst of his entire career.
In the Houston Rockets game 6 contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Westbrook was nothing short of disastrous. In 27 minutes on the floor against his former team Brodie put up a mere 17 points and a game-high seven turnovers, but that sentence doesn’t give Russell Westbrook’s performance the (dis)credit it deserves. He was missing his teammates on passes by a country mile, air-balled shots, and finished with the second-worst plus/minus of anyone who hit the floor. Players have bad games, even in the postseason, and this is far from the worst playoff performance a superstar has had. But this isn’t just a pattern for Russell Westbrook. At this point its what’s expected from him. He hasn’t won a single playoff series since Kevin Durant left OKC for the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016. In the four playoff series he’s played in since, Westbrook has put up abysmal shooting stats. He has yet to shoot better than 39% from the field in a single series since his break-up with KD, and he is currently shooting a horrendous 25% from three in this series against the Thunder (the worst of his playoff career). The reason why tonight’s Game 7 reads as a crossroads in the career of Russell Westbrook is: If the Rockets come up short against the Thunder tonight, the phrase “Playoff Liability” will be just as big a part of his legacy as his Triple-Double season. That’s not an exaggeration either, look at what has transpired over the last four seasons.
Durant indirectly admitted that he felt Russ was the thing holding OKC back from winning an NBA title on social media (See pic above). After he leaves (and wins a championship in his first season apart from him), Westbrook fails to win a single series as the leader of the team despite having help from perennial All-Star and 2019 MVP finalist Paul George. PG demands a trade from the team and, just like KD, has already won a series in his first year apart from Russ. All of these things point to one thing: that Russell Westbrook was/is the problem on these teams. The Rockets, in their first season with Westbrook, find themselves on the brink of being eliminated in the first round. A franchise that hasn’t lost in the first round since 2016 when they ran up against the 73-9 Warriors. The worst part of all this for Russ? If OKC is victorious tonight, it’ll be the first series win for the team since Westbrook became the leader of the Thunder following Durant’s departure.
.The odds are stacked against Westbrook heading into tonights series-deciding match up. Chris Paul (the main piece OKC received when they traded Westbrook to Houston this past off-season) is coming off a huge 28-point outing in Game 6, and his partner-in-crime James Harden doesn’t exactly have a history of coming up big in Game 7’s in his own right. If there was ever a time to Brodie to turn it on, it’s tonight. Because if Russell Westbrook finishes this season with a fourth-consecutive first-round exit, it may be an irremovable stain on his Hall of Fame career. Emotions are sure to be at an all-time high when Game 7 tips off between the Thunder and the Rockets tonight at 9 PM Eastern on ESPN.
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