The Thunder’s first five playoff games served as a rallying cry for all those in the “Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will never properly co-exist” camp.
But OKC’s last five playoff games may have served as the definitive nail in the coffin of that increasingly unpopular argument.
The Thunder labored to the brink of elimination against Memphis, stumbling to a 3-2 series deficit because of Westbrook’s erratic shot selection and Durant’s inability to find any offensive rhythm.
But ever since that series tilted from Game 5 to 6 — a turning point that could come to define this playoff run — Westbrook flipped a switch and Durant recaptured his MVP magic. And now, five games and four crucial wins later, this dynamic duo is playing maybe its best two-man basketball since linking up six years ago.
The numbers have been truly historic, particularly in the past two games.
On Wednesday against the Clippers, Westbrook had 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, his third triple-double of the postseason. Durant added 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in NBA history — counting both the regular season and playoffs — that teammates had both gone for 30-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and nine-plus assists in the same game.
“They finally have a nice little chemistry, hitting a nice little stride,” Kendrick Perkins said.
On Friday, they nearly matched those monumental numbers. Westbrook finished with 23, 13 and eight, while Durant added 36, eight and six. In the past two games, Durant and Westbrook have combined to score or assist on 179 of the Thunder’s 230 points.
“I think it’s all calculated,” Caron Butler said. “They know when to be overly aggressive, when to not, when to get guys involved, when to set the stage.”
And that balance has been particularly evident within Westbrook, whose personal playoff turnaround coincides directly with the Thunder’s.