He’s one of the most polarizing players in the league. Some say his limitations off the ball put a ceiling on his team. Or that he doesn’t make his teammates better.
What was made painstakingly clear in Golden State’s opening game against Oklahoma City was that the NBA is certainly better with Russell Westbrook in uniform.
Warriors games against the Thunder have been electrifying ever since Kevin Durant defected to California.
This one was more steam-powered.
Golden State got their championship rings before the game and when things got underway they quickly jumped out to an early lead.
The Thunder’s defence kept them in the game when the Warriors threatened to blow it open in the second quarter and then Paul George stepped up to give them a three point lead in the third. He finished with 27 points and Dennis Schroder had 21.
It remained close until the closing minutes before the Warriors do what they typically do – tighten up on defence and strangle the life out of their opposition.
It wasn’t the usual suspects however that made the difference in this one; Kevon Looney and Damian Jones making some big plays in the paint to keep the champs in front, helping cover up 10 straight misses from three.
Steph Curry filled the box score (32pts, 9 rebounds & 9 assists), and got his shimmy on after icing the game with a three point play, but the game lacked a spark.
No prizes for guessing what was missing. He was sitting on the sidelines in a much more conservative outfit than we’re used to. Come back Russell. Soon.