There are only two point guards in the top 25 in terms of points in the paint: Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook. With his relentless attacks on the rim, Westbrook is in a class all his own. While Parker mixes in an array of floaters, running one-handers, and scoop shots, Westbrook is all power, slashing to the rim at full speed. Although Kevin Durant earns all the headlines and well-deserved MVP talk, the Thunder will only go as far as Russell Westbrook takes them in the playoffs.
In order for the Knicks to win in one of the toughest places to play in the league, they’ll have to frustrate Westbrook at the rim, and force him into taking long jump shots. In Thunder wins this season, Westbrook is shooting 61.6% in the restricted area. That figure drops to 54.1% in losses. And while Westbrook has struggled with this three-point shot all season, in wins he hits near league average on above the break threes, at 35.3%. In losses, his conversion rate plummets to 24.7% on those deep shots.
If Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin can establish themselves as forces in the paint, Westbrook will take more elbow jumpers and three-point shots – especially in transition. The Knicks can definitely score with the Thunder, as we saw in their match up at MSG earlier this season. Once again, it will come down to defense for the Knicks, as they look for revenge.
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