“Everybody's going to have to step up,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Not one person.”
Brooks on Friday held off on announcing which player would supplant Westbrook as the starter, though it presumably will be second-year guard Reggie Jackson. Veteran guard Derek Fisher is in play as well.
Either way, both will have big shoes to fill.
“We have good depth on our team,” said Kevin Durant. “Reggie is ready for the moment. He's been working his tail off, and we just got to rally behind him.”
Jackson has but two playoff games under his belt. He has never started an NBA game outside of the preseason. The most minutes he's played came three games ago, when he logged 36 minutes in the team's season finale against Milwaukee.
Then there's this: Jackson played just 19 minutes with the other four starters in the regular season, according to NBA.com/stats.
In 70 games this season, Jackson averaged 5.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He showed tremendous growth from his rookie season but has never experienced what he's about to step in Saturday.
“It's a challenge for our team, especially at this time,” Durant said. “But I have faith in myself and this team that I can go out there and lead us. Matter of fact, I know I can lead us.”
Durant doesn't have much choice.
But he, more than every other Thunder player outside of Nick Collison, has been down Adversity Ave.
Not quite like this, of course. But the blueprint for managing, coping, surviving, they've learned, really doesn't change. This is a Thunder organization that has erected and operated under one deep-rooted belief.
No matter what, life must go on.
And it will.