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#pounditSunday, September 20, 2020

Russell Westbrook is shooting the Thunder out of the playoffs

Russell Westbrook

If you’re wondering why the Oklahoma City Thunder are down 3-1 in their first-round playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers, look no further than the play of Russell Westbrook.

Two years removed from an MVP season, Westbrook had an atrocious season as a shooter this year. He made just 42.8 percent of his field goals in the regular season, shot 29 percent on threes — his worst mark since 2010 — and he even struggled at the free throw line. His 65.6 percent at the line was the worst mark of his career by far.

The poor shooting has continued into the playoffs and is the biggest reason the Thunder are losing to Portland.

For the series, Westbrook is shooting 36.5/28.0/84.4 on his percentages. Those first two numbers — 36.5 percent shooting and 28 percent on threes — are killers.

In Game 1, Westbrook went 8/17 (47.1 percent) for 24 points, but he missed all four of his threes. The team lost that game 104-99. In Game 2, he was atrocious going 5/20 (25 percent) from the field and 1/6 on threes. It’s no surprise that his team lost by 20 when he shot that poorly. It was the same story in Game 4 on Sunday when he shot 5/21 (23.8 percent) and his team lost by 13 at home.

The only game OKC has won in the series came in Game 3 when Russ went 11/22 (50 percent) and 4/6 on threes. Those kinds of games are too few and far between for the team to win a series. The problem is his poor shooting games are more commonplace. He’s always been somewhat of a stubborn, ball-dominant player, even when Kevin Durant was on the team. When he’s shooting the ball this poorly, he can’t keep taking shots because it’s burying his squad.

Watching Westbrook continue to take as many shots as he does with how badly he’s performing is tough. Are the Thunder going to win a playoff series with him shooting that way? Next question.

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