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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Russell Westbrook guarantees he will shut down Ricky Rubio in Game 4

Ricky Rubio had arguably his best game of the year in Saturday night’s playoff win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Russell Westbrook has promised it will not happen again in the series.

After Rubio led the Utah Jazz to a victory with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, Westbrook admitted he let his counterpart get in too much of a rhythm. The NBA MVP candidate insists Game 4 will be different.

“He made some shots,” Westbrook told reporters, per ESPN’s Royce Young. “Too comfortable. But I’m gonna shut that s— off next game though. Guarantee that.”

The Thunder have been intentionally forcing Rubio to take midrange shots throughout the series, and it seemed to be working prior to Game 3. After he shot just 5-of-18 from the field in Game 1 and 6-of-16 in Game 2, Rubio converted 9-0f-18 on Saturday but was a perfect 5-for-5 with midrange jumpers.

“I think the first two games, I wasn’t being effective in the midrange area,” Rubio admitted. “It’s been something I’ve been working on. I felt good about it, but it wasn’t going in.

“But tonight, it felt good seeing the first couple go in. It’s just the way we played. We got open shots, and it’s easy to make shots when you are open.”

Westbrook is apparently planning to eliminate some of those open shots going forward, but he also needs to improve offensively. He’s shooting just over 36 percent from the field in the series and scored just 14 points in Saturday’s 115-102 loss. That’s not the player we saw recently make NBA history with his offensive ability.

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