Beyond The Mic: Westbrook The Whiner
Russell Westbrook’s Game 7 performance last Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies seems like a distant memory after his fourth quarter benching in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder All-Star point guard sat out the entire fourth quarter.
Westbrook was productive in the first half, but began turning the ball over the third quarter. 4 assists and 4 turnovers are putrid numbers for an all-star point guard playing in the Conference finals.
I, along with most, have been very critical of Westbrook for playing “me first” basketball, rather than creating for his teammates. His “me first” attitude caught up with him in Game 2, as he dribbled into a turnover late in the third quarter and OKC head coach Scott Brooks pulled him out the game. Brooks was visibly upset at his guard, and could be seen yelling for him to “PASS THE BALL!” as Westbrook was coming to the bench. Russell didn’t handle the criticism well, as he walked to the bench and gave what felt like a 5 minute hissy-fit, griping and whining about his coach. At one point, assistant coach Maurice Cheeks had to calm Westbrook down. Rather than reinsert Westbrook into the game, Brooks stuck with backup Eric Maynor for the entire fourth quarter. It turned out to be a great move by Brooks, as Maynor played fantastic, never turning the ball over and finishing with 13 points and a +18 in the +/- category. Westbrook’s +/- category for Game 2 was -12.
I praised Westbrook for his performance last Sunday in Game 7 against Memphis. If Russell plays the way he did in that game, the Thunder could bring an NBA championship to Oklahoma City this year. If he continues to baby the way he did last night, he may need to get a more comfortable seat on the bench. After all, the Thunder took a lead they never relinquished when he was off the floor.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Westbrook will begin Game 3 on the bench. He will start, and Scott Brooks will expect big things out of his all-star point guard. I’m just anxious to see how he responds. Do we see the incredible triple-double type performance he showed on Sunday? Or do we see more of Baron Davis 2.0?