Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks must have been thinking before last night’s game, ‘Hey, we’re facing the Dallas Mavericks tonight and the Chicago Bulls tomorrow night. On a back-to-back, we should be able to beat up on Dallas tonight and have Russell Westbrook fresh for tomorrow.’
With Westbrook having multiple knee surgeries in less than the span of a year, Brooks has economized Westbrook’s playing time. The thought process, of course, is to keep Westbrook fresh for the playoffs but, as was evidenced last night, the Thunder are playing a dangerous game. It’s also too cocky of Brooks to look past the Mavericks the way he did. Sure, he has Kevin Durant, the possible NBA MVP this season, but Brooks should know a lot better than to pick his poison.
That is never a good idea. It’s like in baseball when a manager pitches around one batter to get to a seemingly less dangerous hitter. Brooks, like many MLB managers over the years in that situation, has egg all over his face as the Mavericks, led by Shawn Marion‘s 19 points, flattened Oklahoma City like a pancake 109-86.
Durant did wind up with 30 points, but only 10 of those points came in the second half.
Brooks should know that Durant can’t do it all by himself, especially with all the other injuries the Thunder have at the moment. The Mavericks, who had five different players in double figures, displayed the power of team basketball. Without their starting point guard, the Thunder’s leading assist man was Durant, who had a shameless four. The Mavericks’ backcourt combination of Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon and Devin Harris on the flip side finished with 20 assists, which was three more assists than the entire Thunder team combined.
If Brooks doesn’t get his head out of the gutter soon, the Thunder might have to part ways with the second seed in the Western Conference too.