Reasons I’m excited for this series:
This is the matchup that most people (and especially casual NBA fans) are hyped for and rightfully so. You have a lot of narratives to run with here. First, you have the fact that these two made the triple double look routine this season. Westbrook broke The Big O’s record for triple double’s in a season and became the first player to average one since Oscar did so in the early 60’s… Let me note for a second that Oscar Robertson accomplished the feat in his second NBA season and was .3 assists per game away from doing it as a rookie, .5 assists away in his 3rd year, and .1 rebounds away in year 4- if you were questioning how good he was.
Secondly, you have the ex-teammate narrative. It really doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that the Thunder had Durant, Westbrook, and Harden. I really felt like this team was going to win a title but it didn’t happen. Harden and Westbrook now have their own teams while Durant decided to ride Steph’s coattails to a ring. There hasn’t been a ton of beef between Westbrook and Harden like there has been with Brookie and Durant but you have to know that the race for the MVP this year will only add to the level of competition they feel when they step on the court to face each other.
It’s funny how things change… I thought Harden would be a star coming out of the draft and was excited to see him become just that. When he got his own team with Houston I was happy for him but what has happened since has completely changed my feelings for him. It is almost impossible to watch this man play these days. He is clearly very talented and could dominate a game based on his skill alone but instead he developed and has perfected the art of the flop. Driving the lane and throwing his body onto people, extending his arms to get them under the defender’s, throwing his head back at the first sign of contact- James Harden’s game is 60% whistles. I feel like if I was defending him, he’d get about two flops in before pulled a Grayson Allen and just tripped him when he tried to drive on me. If you’re going to get the whistle anyway I’m going to make you earn it. It is because of this that James is now one of my most hated players in the league and I wish him nothing but failure in the post-season.
On the other side, I always hated Westbrook. I didn’t like him in college and I definitely didn’t like him when it was clear that Durant was the best player on the team. I would be the first person to call him out for dominating the ball and holding Durant back. I was advocating for him to have his own team way back before they made their finals run. Not because I wanted him to be great but because I felt like it would be good for him to play the way he wants to play and I thought the Thunder would have been great with Durant and Harden as the tandem since Harden was more of a natural facilitator at that time. Now Westbrook has taken over Kobe’s role for me as a player I hate but respect as a baller.
I will be rooting against the Rockets in this one but I expect this to be an amazing series either way.