TNT game analyst Steve Kerr, working with play-by-play announcer Marv Albert, said he was awed by Thunder guard Russell Westbrook’s athleticism after his dunk off a missed Durant three-pointer in the Thunder’s 104-84 Game 6 victory in Memphis.
“In a league full of incredible athletes, he just jumps off the page,” Kerr said.
Kerr, a candidate to become the New York Knicks coach, also noted Westbrook was taking shorter shots. “He’s so much better when he shoots from 18 feet, rather than 25.”
After Westbrook banked in a three-pointer, Kerr said, “He looks over at us and just laughed. When it’s your night, it’s your night.”
Rookie center Steven Adams’ shot blocking and defense also drew praise from Kerr.
“Where’s he been this whole series?” Kerr said. “He is quick and strong. He has a chance to be a good defensive player in the league.”
As for Game 7, Kerr said it was important for the Thunder to get off to a fast start. “They have to find a way in Game 7 to generate the same kind of pace and aggression that they had tonight.”
Lieberman credits defense
Fox Sports Oklahoma analyst Nancy Lieberman credited the Thunder’s defense for setting the tone of the game early.
“They were absolutely remarkable defensively — plus-11 rebounds, 11 blocks, 7 rebounds,” she said on the postgame show. “This is part of the reason why the Grizzlies shot 37 percent in this game.”
Game analyst Grant Long said Durant appeared more confident at the start. “He was very decisive. He was not looking over his shoulder, trying to figure out where the defense was coming from.”
Radio voice Matt Pinto credited the insertion of Caron Butler into the offensive lineup for helping Durant get more breathing room on offense. “It helped flatten out Memphis’ defense,” he said.
*At halftime, TNT’s Kenny Smith referred to Westbrook as “the great eraser,” noting Westbrook was out of position on the dunk after the KD miss. “You live with some of his bad mental responsibility because he makes it up with his athleticism and effort.”
*TNT’s Charles Barkley said Westbrook still shoots too much, needing to keep his shots to 10 to 20 a game and maybe 22 if he’s hot. “He’s so athletic. He can get a shot any time he wants. He doesn’t even realize he’s a point guard.”