The Oklahoma City Thunder take down the Utah Jazz

The Thunder-Jazz series may end up being the most exciting playoff matchup in the first round. Donovan Mitchell has overachieved all season and shows no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook along with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony look to prove doubters wrong and make a lot of noise in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Paul George

In Game 1, the Jazz jumped out to an early lead but the Thunder quickly caught up and though it was fairly close throughout, the Thunder had a nice grip on this game for the most part. And the main reason for this was Paul George. He stepped up and became the player we were expecting to see since he was traded to OKC. George lit up the Jazz with 36 points on 8-11 shooting from deep. They had no answer for him. Most times, it seemed as if he was toying with his defenders. As a Thunder fan, it was a relief to see that Westbrook did not have to do it all by himself. If PG13 can do this more consistently and we can get more scoring (and some defense) from Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder can become a serious threat to the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors.

It’s important to note that Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. If you watched the game, you’d see that Westbrook doesn’t need to stat chase to get his numbers. He just wants the ball more than everyone else. As he’s said in the past, Spaulding (the basketball) is his only friend on the court. Whether he’s joking or not, he sure plays like it. I find it hard to believe Westbrook needs anyone to help him get stats when he tries harder than everyone on the court every second of every game. He is the best player in this matchup and the reason the Thunder will win.

Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell looked like a 10 year vet in this game. You certainly couldn’t tell this was his first playoff game or that he is a rookie. He easily led the Jazz in scoring with 27 points and it’s clear they would not have stood a chance without his great play. I found myself wanting to root for him and the Jazz, and would have been if they were playing any other team except the Thunder. Mitchell hurt his toe during the game and was noticeably limping. The coach decided to pull him from the game to the guard’s dismay. He was visibly upset on the bench, exclaiming he was fine and can continue playing so the coach put him back in the game. He is the type of player everyone should want on their team and will quickly become one of the elite guards in the NBA. Don’t be surprised to see Mitchell continue his great play for the rest of Thunder-Jazz matchup.

I expect all of the games in this series to be fairly close; however, the Thunder have more star power and in the NBA this matters. My prediction is that the Thunder will win the series in 5 games, but it will be a very exciting 5 games as we got a nice taste in game 1.

What are your thoughts? Think the Thunder will win the series against the Utah Jazz? Or will the Jazz flip the script on them? Let me know.

Sincerely,

NoFearLavere

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My Money’s On Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder v Brooklyn Nets

It feels like yesterday he was the 4th pick of the Seattle Supersonics. Almost like yesterday he played in the NBA Finals alongside the likes of James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Durant. Like yesterday, he hoisted up the All-Star Game MVP Trophy, twice. Today, Russell Westbrook is the reigning NBA regular season MVP, the owner of the NBA regular season triple-double record, and the leader of an Oklahoma City Thunder team who poses a legitimate threat to take home the 2017-2018 NBA Championship. Oh, and let’s not forget he is a modern-day fashion icon.

Westbrook is certainly an All-Star but not a superstar. Words echoed by Owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban in regards to Russell Westbrook. And then March 27th, 2017 happened. The Russell Westbrook-led Oklahoma City Thunder were facing Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks. Down as many as 15 points in the game, the Thunder were down 11 with 2:40 left to go in the fourth quarter on the Mavs home court. Then, as Cuban labeled him, the “All-Star” took over. An offensive rebound and pass from Taj Gibson led to a Westbrook 3-point shot in Harrison Barnes’ face, BANG, 8-point game with 2:34 to go. After a Harrison Barnes missed layup on the other end, Westbrook raced down the court and backed down Yogi Ferrell from the 3-point line all the way into the paint, then hits a turnaround jump shot – AND 1. “He’s outta his mind!” The announcer said in excitement. Next up, was Wesley Matthew’s turn to face Westbrook’s wrath. He and Matthews met at the 3-point line. Westbrook crossed him over then raced to the paint, brushed off some contact, then hit the fade away with less than one minute to go. With 13.6 seconds left, the Mavs were inbounding the ball up by 1. Then the “All-Star” happened, again. Westbrook interfered with the pass, causing the ball to go out of bounds off the J.J. Barea. Thunder ball. 13.1 seconds left in the game. The ball was inbounded to Russell Westbrook. In full Westbrook demeanor, he raced up the court. In fear of Westbrook heading to paint, Matthews retreats too much allowing Westbrook to pull up for the jump shot. You guessed it, BANG, ball game.

RussellWestbrook2.jpg

That pull up over a defender at the top of the key is a very familiar sight. Reminds me of the 1998 NBA Finals where a certain Chicago Bulls player hit a game winner on the road from that spot. There is no coincidence Westbrook is on the Jordan Brand. His determination to win resembles that same drive Michael Jordan had when on court. And Jordan is only the man considered to be the greatest of all-time. “I got my first MVP award before my first ring, too.” Words by Jordan on Westbrook. It’s only a matter of time before these words become true for Westbrook.

USP NBA: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER-MEDIA DAY S BKN USA OK

The stars have, literally and figuratively, aligned for Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder with the arrival of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to go along with Steven Adams and the supporting cast. This has the making to be a very special year for the Thunder. We know it won’t be easy and nothing is ever certain in the NBA, or sports for that matter. But there is one thing we can be certain about, and that is when Westbrook steps on that court he is going to give 100% to his team, his city, and his fans.

Career Predictions and Realizations

Prediction: Russell Westbrook will win an NBA Championship before all is said and done.

Realization: Once he captures that title, many will realize and consider him as a top 5 point guard to ever play this game. Considering where he’ll end up statistically, compared to his peers, he just needs that championship to solidify his greatness.

Prediction: He will retire a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and have a statue created in his honor.

Realization: Westbrook will be up there with the Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and the Kobe Bryant’s of the world.  Guys who embraced the great moments that happened in the city they played for and never quit when things got tough. Instead, they endured. When you think about, that just makes winning so much sweeter.

They said he doesn’t pass the ball. He averaged 10 assist. They said he’s not a superstar. He won MVP. They said no big name stars will want to play with him. He now plays with two, one of which waived his no-trade clause to make it happen. Now, go on, say he won’t win a championship. I dare you. He will prove you wrong, again. My money is on Westbrook. Because, WHY NOT?

Sincerely,

NoFearLavere

Follow me on Twitter @NoFearBlogging