Though Oklahoma City won Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals in Dallas Thursday night, you would have figured they’d been blown out based on the scrutiny they faced afterwards. Thunder coach Scott Brooks decided to keep four of his five starters on the bench for the bulk of the fourth quarter, leaving Kevin Durant as the only regular on the floor. Though Dirk Nowitzki went to work on Nick Collison (who was later subbed out for Serge Ibaka) in the fourth quarter, the plan worked well — the Thunder outscored the Mavs by five and won the game 106-100.
James Harden was on the money with 23 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and four assists, and Collison and Daequan Cook combined to go 5-for-5. The real story was that Eric Maynor scored 13 points in 20 minutes while subbing for Russell Westbrook, which created a controversy after the game.
Westbrook has been heavily criticized throughout the playoffs for his questionable shot selection and because of his inability to help Kevin Durant get the ball at times. Though I feel like the Thunder is much better team with Westbrook than without him (see the Game 7 closeout triple double against Memphis), his attitude and performance has been questionable. There are times when Russell should use his quickness and ability to get to the basket to try and score, and other times when he should try to set up his teammates. Sometimes he doesn’t try to run offensive sets and that is a problem. At the same time, there are few point guards who are as quick and effective in transition, so it’s a tricky situation to monitor.