Russell Westbrook knows he could have his way, any time, against any team, in this postseason.
But that's not what the Thunder point guard is interested in, contrary to popular belief.
“For me, in the playoffs, I just try to go in and try to find a way that we can win,” Westbrook said. “During this time of the year it really don't matter who scores or how we score as long as at the end of the day we get a win.”
Don't be surprised if Westbrook just happens to do a lot of the scoring. Because, frankly, for the Thunder, that game plan generally leads to a lot of winning.
Add to that, few teams have an answer for Westbrook when he's on his game. In his fifth season, Westbrook has blossomed into one of the most indefensible players around, and this playoff run could be his time to shine, solidifying Westbrook, once and for all, as one of the game's elite players.
“I think the best way to show that is to win,” Westbrook said. “That's how I think and how I thought this season. We did that as a team. We won 60 games, and I think that's the best way you can show people. “He's a winner, he likes to win and his team wins.'”
Westbrook will walk into his first favorable matchup Sunday as the Thunder opens its postseason against Houston and point guard counterpart Jeremy Lin. It's a matchup Westbrook has dominated and one that could be the Rockets' most lopsided.
In three games against Houston this season, Westbrook averaged 23.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 2.3 steals. Lin averaged 14 points, 3.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists. The Thunder won the season series two games to one.
But Westbrook said he tries not to enter a favorable matchup licking his chops.
“Every night I'm going to go at whoever I'm playing,” Westbrook said. “I don't pick nights and say ‘I have an advantage tonight.' That's when things go the wrong way. That's why every night I try to come out and play the same way, play consistently. So regardless of who I'm playing or what's going on my team knows what to expect from me.”
Westbrook said he adjusts his attack based on how defenders are covering him. Some players, Westbrook said, are smaller so he goes into the post for easy buckets. Some are slower and he tries to blow by them. Others are good with their hands, in which case ball security becomes most important.
“You definitely got to pay attention to what other people are doing,” Westbrook said. “But at the same time I've got to continue to do what I've been doing throughout the season.”
It's worked up to this point.
“It's big,” said Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha. “He's the main (reason for the) success of this team, him and Kevin (Durant); just them being able to get their own shot and do so many things offensively and at the same time being willing passers when they get double teamed. They do so much for the team.”