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Thunder Duo Proving to be Unstoppable

Oklahoma City Thunder WallpaperOklahoma City is on the precipice of becoming the greatest king slayer in NBA history.

A win Thursday night in Oracle arena, home of the greatest regular season team the league has ever seen, would advance the Thunder to the NBA Finals, completing the most treacherous path to the championship round any team has accomplished.

Only 19 teams have ever compiled 65 regular season victories, with Golden State and the Spurs becoming just the second pair to accomplish the feat in the same season. 

The Warriors are just 48 minuets away from suffering the same fate as San Antonio, being knocked out by the Thunder.

Eliminating San Antonio and the Warriors in consecutive rounds, after the two teams combined for 140 victories in the regular season would solidify the Thunder as the most accomplished team ever to enter the NBA Finals.

Golden State won 73 times during the regular season — including a three game sweep of the Thunder — as it posted a 39-2 record at home.

Suddenly, the sharpshooting Warriors are struggling to find answers for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the most dominant duo in the 2016 playoffs.

Four years ago, when the two led Oklahoma City to its first NBA Finals appearance, it seemed as if the team would be hosting perennial championship parades.

Instead, a jarring trade of James Harden to the Rockets, along with numerous injuries derailing the team in the playoffs, has enabled the Spurs and Warriors to emerge as the powerhouse teams in the Western Conference.

The Thunder can vanquish both with one more victory, becoming the first team ever to defeat multiple 65-win teams in the playoffs, as Westbrook continues to dominate.

After finishing as runner-up to Warriors guard Stephen Curry, the first unanimous MVP in league history, Westbrook has emerged as the most potent force in the 2016 playoffs, ranking first in assists, fifth in scoring and fifth in steals.

His 36 point, 11 rebound, 11 assist effort in Game 4 Wednesday night not only helped the Thunder secure a 118-94 victory, but he became the first player to notch a triple-double against the defending champions since Charles Barkley posted 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists against Chicago in Game 4 of the 1993 NBA Finals.

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook totaled 18 triple-doubles in the regular season and posted his first triple-double of the 2016 playoffs Wednesday night.
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook totaled 18 triple-doubles in the regular season and posted his first triple-double of the 2016 playoffs Wednesday night.

Westbrook is averaging 26 points, 11.1 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, all figures are an increase from what he posted during the regular season.

Adaptability has been the key for Westbrook.

A year ago, he won his first career scoring crown, piling up the points as a trio of foot surgeries limited Durant to just 27 appearances.

This year, Westbrook has proven he is capable of creating numerous opportunities for his teammates, dishing out 10.4 assists per game, second only to Rajon Rondo.

Since the start of the post season, Westbrook has recorded 10 or more assists on 10 occasions, generating 25.8 points a night, the most of any playoff performer.

The primary beneficiary from those crisp passes has been Durant, the leading scorer in the 2016 playoffs.

Durant is pumping in 27.7 points a night, completing 3.7 assists a game from Westbrook, even though he has struggled to locate his shooting touch.

The 27-year-old is connecting on 43.9 percent shooting from the field and 28.6 percent shooting from 3-point range, his lowest totals since making is playoff debut six years ago.

Even though his accuracy has been diminished, Durant has remained the catalyst for Oklahoma City’s potent offensive attack, tallying 25 or more points in each of his past six appearances.

Kevin Durant has rejected three shots in each of his past two games.
Kevin Durant has rejected three shots in each of his past two games.

Durant is the leading post season scorer for the fourth time in his career, matching his regular season scoring titles.

Both Westbrook and Durant have posted 25 or more points on 10 occasions in the playoffs, with eight coming simultaneously.

Not surprising, the Thunder has gone 7-1 when each of its superstar players tallies 25 points.

Both players logged 41 minutes in Game 4, with Westbrook registering a +/- of +26 and a +21 for Durant.

If Oklahoma City eliminates the Warriors, Durant and Westbrook will be the only competitors still in contention averaging more than 25 points a night in the post season.

The Thunder has already toppled San Antonio and is a Game 5 victory away from becoming the first team ever to vanquish a 70-win team in the playoffs.

In NBA playoff history, a team has trailed 3-1 on 232 occasions, only nine have gone on to win the series.

With Durant and Westbrook playing at an unprecedented level, the Thunder has no intentions of letting its lead slip away.

 

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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