The freight train known as Russell Westbrook is coming to play the San Antonio Spurs in his attempt to single-handedly secure a playoff spot for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Both teams are playing back-to-backs, so fatigue might be a factor. However, Gregg Popovich did give some resting minutes to some of his older stars, coming off a 7 point loss in Dallas to the Mavericks, with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan looking especially old and useless.
The Thunder are after a 10-point win against the Lakers which wasn’t that close actually. Westbrook is the name on everyone’s lips at the moment, averaging 32.7 points, 11.2 assists and 9.6 rebounds over the last 13 games. However, it’s not just the triple double machine that’s hard at work for the Thunder. Enes Kanter might be a downgrade defensively, but he’s giving the Thunder a low post scorer for the first time in ages, averaging 21.6 points and 12.6 rebounds while shooting 58.7% from the field over the last eight games, combining beautifully with Westbrook.
If there’s one team that can present a decent defensive effort against Westbrook, which means a lot of help and not leaving shooters open on almost every drive to the basket or effort to trap him, it’s the Spurs. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green excel at being almost at two places at once, while Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter are excellent at shadowing players a step behind.
The two teams met on Christmas with the Thunder winning 114-106 in San Antonio. Those were more difficult times for the Spurs, playing without Kawhi Leonard. Kevin Durant wasn’t involved as well, allowing Westbrook to run wild with 34 points and 11 assists. Serge Ibaka played very well on that occasion, but he’s out from tonight’s game also.