Today we awaken to stories of glory and heroism for Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant from last night’s 108-102 victory over Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, but a look at the statistics makes me beg to differ just a little bit.
Although the Oklahoma City Thunder’s dynamic duo were able to overcome turnovers in the 4th quarter and hit some critical buckets, the team’s role players is the real story.
(Photo Credit: Associated Press)
Yes, Durant and Westbrook represent two of the most prolific superstars in the NBA, but it takes more than superstars to overcome good team. Aside from Westbrook’s 27 points, 12 assists and seven steals, as well as his 3rd quarter explosion, and Durant’s 26 points and 10 rebounds, OKC’s lesser celebrated players were instrumental in their Game 1 victory.
Emerging big man Steven Adams continued his lunch pail efforts with 16 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Power Forward Serge Ibaka chipped in with 11 points and 11 rebounds while center Enes Kanter chipped in eight points to go along with six rebounds and a block.
During their Western Conference Semifinal victory over the San Antonio Spurs, it has become apparent that a large part of OKC’s strategy hinges upon dominating opponents on the boards. They averaged 45 rebounds to the Spurs 37.8 in the semis and have continued that trend in Game 1, grabbing 52 boards to Golden State’s 44.
(Photo Credit: MNG Interactive)
In addition, timely buckets by Dion Waiters and Andre Roberson helped keep OKC within striking distance as they whittled away at a 17-point halftime Golden State lead.
Yes, you can say they should have called the foul when Andre Iguodala had his arm hit while attempting a put-back dunk and that the refs missed the obvious traveling violation by Russell Westbrook with less than a minute left in the game, but if it weren’t for the yeoman efforts of OKC’s role players, none of that would have mattered much anyway. Hats off to a group that many felt wasn’t good enough.
Now, we’ll see if they can keep up their efforts in the rest of the series.