âWhoa!â Westbrook said. âOh, my bad. My fault. Accident.â
Westbrook, who happens to be an amazing basketball player, is never boring. He can be combative and moody and fussy. He can be funny and insightful and witty. And he can be all those things in a span of 4 minutes 24 seconds, which he was on Tuesday afternoon during his obligatory session with the news media. (Full disclosure: He was mostly combative.)
The Thunder got blown out in Sundayâs series opener, and Westbrook played poorly. He shot 6 of 23 from the field, committed nine turnovers and spent an unpleasant evening in the company of the Rocketsâ Patrick Beverley, who draped himself over Westbrook like a bathrobe. Westbrook said he had been watching film to prepare for Game 2. Had he studied Beverley at all?
âI donât watch the other team,â he said. âI just watch what Iâm doing. I never worry about what other guys are doing, or what theyâre doing. It doesnât bother me. Iâve seen it all already.â
But does it give you any added motivation to play against a guy who has been on the leagueâs all-defensive team?
âWell, my opinion of all-defensive team is different from you guys,â Westbrook said. âYou can check and find out and see what criteria goes into all-defensive team. I donât really know what the criteria is, or what you consider all-defense. Heâs a good defender for their team, but I donât worry about nobody, how theyâre defending. I can pretty much do what I want to do.â
Fine, then what is your criteria for the all-defensive team?
âI donât know,â Westbrook said.
Of course, you do.
âI donât,â he said. âHow you gonna tell me what I know? I donât have a criteria. I donât put together the all-defensive team.â
Should your teammate Andre Roberson be in the conversation?
âYep,â Westbrook said.
For however long the Thunderâs playoff run lasts â and after Sundayâs result, it may not last long â Westbrook will continue to be the center of attention. As if anyone needs reminding, he assembled one of the great regular seasons in the history of the N.B.A. He coped with Kevin Durant’s leaving the Thunder by averaging 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game. He was the first player to average a triple-double in 55 years. He hauled the Thunder to 47 victories. And he is most likely to win the Most Valuable Player Award.
But the Rockets are another challenge altogether. In Game 1, James Harden punished the Thunderâs bigger, slower defenders on pick-and-rolls, scoring 37 points in a 31-point win. The Thunder wanted to take away the 3-point line, so Harden drove for layups. The problem for the Thunder is that if they choose to protect the paint, Harden will gladly shoot over the top of them.
The Rockets have more…