Would Somebody Please Help Poor Russell Westbrook?
Sports |  Source: denverpost.com

Would Somebody Please Help Poor Russell Westbrook?

I feel so bad for Russ.

I don't know how Russell Westbrook does it. I just don't know how he does it. Because if I were Russell Westbrook, I would want to bury my head in the ground and not look at a basketball for weeks.

Westbrook scored 51 points, had 10 rebounds, and dished out 13 assists, but the Thunder lost to the Rockets, 115-111, on Wednesday night in another frustrating display of how little help the explosive point guard has.

Russ was straight-up cooking to begin Wednesday, leading his time to a big lead midway through the third quarter: he had the Thunder up by double-digits, 86-74, in Houston!

Maybe the Thunder could snare one in Houston? The odds of them winning the series were still going to be very long, but a Game 2 win would go a long way to making believers out of everyone.

Then, as coaches tend to do when players are exhausted and need at least a couple minutes to catch their breath, OKC head coach Billy Donovan took Westbrook out with 2:20 left in the third quarter. Again: they led, 86-74, with 2:20 left in the third quarter.

When the fourth quarter began, the lead was down to 89-86. It took 140 seconds of game time for all of Westbrook's hard work to go straight out the window, which probably had Russ sitting on the bench, feeling like...

It's consistent: when Westbrook does otherworldly things on the floor, the Thunder win. When he comes up just short of incredible, they tend to lose. During the season they went 33-9 in games when Westbrook recorded a triple-double, and 13-25 when he didn't.

They were basically a swinging pendulum, following Westbrook's every move, because let's face it: around Russ, Oklahoma City has very, very little talent to help him out, and we're seeing the problem areas come to the forefront in this series.

In the fourth quarter, Russ missed a whole bunch of shots and couldn't do much of anything right, probably because he was the only reason the Thunder weren't trailing by 30 after three quarters. It was ugly, but it's so hard to blame the man when he's on an island.

The Thunder will probably win a game in Oklahoma City, but the series won't last much longer, nor will it ever be in a great deal of doubt because, while the Rockets are one of the best teams in the league, the Thunder are not. They have one of the best players in the league. It's a big ol' difference, especially in the playoffs, and especially when you play great competition, game in and game out, for an entire series.

Sorry, Russ. You're gonna be tired for another week, and then your season will be over, and none of it will be your fault, but it'll happen anyway.

Image Alt
Sports |  Source: thesportsdaily.com

The Thunder Took It To The Warriors

Steph Curry and company are human, after all.

Sunday night, the Thunder did something no team in the NBA would've dreamt of doing during the regular season: they beat Steph Curry and the Warriors by 28 points.

Yeah.

And while that sounds insane because of how damn good the Warriors are, there were warning signs that this kind of thing could happen.

It went largely unnoticed because of the whole "best regular season in freaking history" thing, but when the Warriors lost in the regular season, they lost big.

Admittedly, the numbers are a little skewed because of Portland's 32-point drubbing of Golden State in the Damian Lillard Revenge Game(TM) in February, but in the Warriors' nine regular season losses, the average margin of victory for their opponents was 21.1 points.

Their postseason losses have been much closer, as postseason games tend to be: their first three losses of the playoffs were by an average of 6.3 points per game.

Then, of course, Sunday night happened.

Serge Ibaka got things jumping for OKC early on with this monstrous posterization over Festus Ezili.

Russell Westbrook was out-rebounding multiple Warriors players on his own.

Even Dion Waiters was doing things!

Thunder exploded for a 32-7 run to end the first half.

At one point, the run reached this level of fire:

The Thunder set a franchise record for most points in a postseason game. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 63 points on just 34 shots.

It was, in every sense of the word, domination.

Still, it's not all doom and gloom for the Bay Area bombers.

After each of the Warriors' five double-digit losses during the regular season, Steve Kerr's squad bounced back strong. They responded by winning the following games by an average of 14.4 points per game. When the Blazers beat them by 12 points in the second round, the Warriors responded with a seven-point overtime win the next time out.

All told, Golden State has yet to lose back-to-back games in 96 games since October. History suggests they won't start now, with the best player in the world and the 2015-16 Coach of the Year in tow.

But!

Don't look now. The Thunder have a 2-1 series lead on the Warriors, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook playing like the superstars they are.

If Oklahoma City wins Game 4, things will get very, very interesting.

Image Alt
Sports |  Source: 12news.com

The Warriors Aren't Bad, The Thunder Are Just Better

Right now, that is.

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead.

People, what's happening to the Warriors?

The Warriors that went 73-9, the best regular season record of all time.

The Warriors that have the first unanimous MVP.

My answer: absolutely nothing.

True Story:

This last semester, I took a philosophy class. I took my fair share of bad grades, but I showed up to every class, went to office hours, and did the readings every time.

My buddy also took this class, and he was much better at philosophy than I. He got good grades, but relied too much on his natural ability to teach himself (that's kind of what philosophy is anyway).

The night before the final, I pulled a near all-nighter and was studying like mad. My buddy went to the bar.

I got a 96, he got an 88.

The Warriors aren't falling apart. What we are seeing is a team rising to the heights everyone thought it was capable of.

Russell Westbrook (triple double machine) and Kevin Durant (former MVP), when firing on all cylinders, are a more dangerous backcourt than the Splash Brothers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. The duo from OKC is faster, stronger and more athletic. No disrespect to the Splash Brothers, but tape don't lie.

If you think about it, the Thunder match up perfectly with the Warriors. Every skill set, every personality is accounted for. The reason the Warriors are so good is because they play fast and efficient basketball.

All it takes to beat them is another team that does the same thing, and people have expected the Thunder to be that team all season.

Thing is, the Thunder were like me. They took their losses and had their growing pains. Remember the drama of Kevin Durant potentially leaving OKC after this season? I think the only thing Durant is thinking about right now is hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy. We got caught up in the little, petty things and failed to see that the Thunder were putting in the work.

The Thunder went to office hours. The Thunder did the reading. The Thunder took their bad grades. They look like they've been up all night preparing for this moment, the Western Conference Finals.

The Warriors look like they've been out at the bars. Down three games to one, their regular season performance is already a thing of the past. I wonder how much they studied for this test.

Image Alt
Sports |  Source: usatoday.com

Dubs Win, So The NBA Has To Be Rigged

There's no other explanation for it.

In every clique there is at least one friend who gets a little (or alot) crazy when it comes to conspiracy theories. These characters are pretty mundane unless you trigger certain buzzwords. Then it's a landslide of questionable logic and cover up accusations on repeat.

Well tonight's contest was for those paranoid few. With the elimination of all-time NBA legacy potentially coming two games early, and a lot of revenue loss on the line for the NBA, it's easy to see why fans are abuzz with suspicion. I'll recap the best accusations twitter had to offer and gauge the plausibility to get down to the nitty gritty truth.

The Refs, It's always the Refs
It's a classic complaint when presented in the right context can indicate something more ominous. Tonight had all the context and stakes necessary to transform "poor reffing" into "this game is rigged."

A rough quarter set the perception for the rest of the game.

First Thoughts: Nothing to See Here
The first quarter was admittedly rough, but like most things, given time it all evened out in the end. The Thunder were called for 26 total fouls, but this isn't an insane discrepancy next to the Dubs 18 total fouls. A proper, home court advantage if anything.

Draymond is Untouchable
Draymond Green's lack of suspension despite his recent transgressions is already enough fuel for corruption junkies. His antics continued tonight which won't help to placate those angry fans that demand equality.

At this point I'm convinced that Draymond has realized there is no turning back. He will forever now feel pressured to kick everytime he jumps. Green earned one technical foul tonight, but that felt more akin to theater rather than true justice.

Verdict: Stars will be Stars
This is nothing new. The NBA has always prioritized star players and will continue to do so until every player is equally responsible for revenue. Till then we'll have to accept the good with the bad and just hope the refs don't play favorites to hard.

Avoid Elimination with Condensation
Slippery courts is nothing new is the NBA. There are logical explanations. The weather is causing some natural condensation. Sweat dripped on the floor from players. The NBA really needs to ensure there is a game 6.

Verdict: Smoking Gun
Multiple witness saw and can attest to the greased floor, especially where Thunder players were concerned. There is simply no other explanation for the Warrior's victory. The media will sell you excuses like Steven Adams' early foul trouble combined with Andrew Bogut's reemergence. That the Dubs finally found space to shoot tonight amidst OKC length.

No more distractions from the truth, the NBA is undeniably rigged as assured by their conveniently slippery courts. I for one will be watching Saturday to catch the league red handed when they rig us a Game 7.

Image Alt
Sports |  Source: nzhoops.co.nz

Steven Adams Wins

Even if the Thunder lose.

Before you read what I'm about to write, read this article by ESPN's Brian Windhorst. It beautifully chronicles the journey of Oklahoma City big man Steven Adams from illiterate teenager to first-round draft pick. And trust me when I say it's a pretty crazy journey.

And while it can't live up to the story of his upbringing, Adams' journey during the 2016 playoffs has been pretty outstanding as well.

Now, don't get me wrong, Adams was a solid player for the Thunder during the regular season: he averaged 8.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game. And that's pretty good for a 7-foot center playing in a small-ball NBA dominated by run-and-gun offense.

However, had you asked any casual NBA fan for his/her opinion on Adams midway through the regular season, most answers would have probably sounded something like this:

"Who?"

And I would have been one of them. Actually, the only reason I knew Steven Adams existed was because of a short (and hilarious) article written by former Grantland writer and best-selling author Shea Serrano.

But now he's almost a household name. I'm not sure if it's his (overly) candid interviews, his caveman-like appearance, or simply his dominant style of play that's made him so popular with even the most casual of NBA fans, but I do know this:

This guy is a BEAST.

While his stats have shown a slight increase this postseason (10.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 31.0 minutes per game), what's really impressive is how tough he is.

He injured his thumb during the Spurs series, but he hasn't skipped a beat. And even though he says it's not that big of a deal, I don't buy it: you can literally see his swollen hand trembling on live TV during pre-game warmups.

It seems like every other play he either ends up getting hit in the face, knocked to the floor, or (in some cases) kicked in the groin (looking at you Draymond). And yet, nothing fazes this guy.

I don't know about you but I would be out for the rest of the playoffs, and most likely the start of next season too after a shot like that.

But not even a bloody nose can stop him! He just grabs some tissues and get's back out there.

And even when we thought that Adams had reached his highest level, blocking poor souls at the rim and bullying the Warriors on the boards like a man amongst children, he went and did this:

And everybody (rightfully) lost their damn minds!

So even if the Oklahoma City Thunder aren't able to do the impossible and beat one of the best teams in NBA history on their home court, one thing is for sure.

Steven Adams has won: the hearts of fans across the NBA, the respect of NBA experts and analysts, and most importantly, a pretty big contract a few years down the line.

Image Alt
Sports |  Source: thirdcertainty.com

Mark Cuban Opened His Mouth Again

He's really gotta stop doing that.

On Monday, Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, boldly voiced his opinion...again.

Cuban said the Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook was merely an All-Star, but not a superstar.

Now, I'm confused as to how Cuban, who has a business degree and is clearly a smart guy, could be so dumb.

Russell Westbrook is one of the best guards the game has ever seen. I have never seen a player attack the rim as ferociously as he does. He averaged near a triple double during the regular season (24 ppg, 10 apg, 8 rpg).

Yeah, not a superstar.

I honestly don't get what Cuban was trying to accomplish here. Out of all the players in the league, one of the last players I'd want to rile up is Russell Westbrook. I mean look at this guy!

SOURCE: GIPHY.COM

How did Cuban's trash talk pan out? The Mavericks were beaten 118-104, and knocked out of the playoffs. How did Westbrook do? He put up 36 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists. I don't know about you, but those are superstar numbers.

What does this mean for Cuban?

Probably nothing. He'll just go film more episodes of Shark Tank and make up excuses as to why his team fell short.

But the question still remains as to how he could be so dumb as to insult one of the five best guards in the game.

Kevin Durant offered perhaps the most logical explanation.

He most likely realized his team was going home, and was trying to stay relevant. Cuban craves the spotlight. That's part of the reason that I like him. He's never afraid to criticize the refs when need be, which always results in large fines. He doesn't care. I can respect him for that.

I can't give him a pass on this one, though. His team won the NBA championship in 2011, and there's no way in hell Cuban's team can do it again with its current roster. Dirk Nowitzki, as amazing as he is, is 37, and won't be leading the Mavs to a title anymore on his own. It's time for Cuban to show his worth, and build a team that can win without Dirk. He needs to find another player, a superstar. But who could that player be?

Russell Westbrook hits the market next year. But nahh, he's merely an All-Star -__-