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Russell Westbrook is a defensive challenge for Miami Heat
OKLAHOMA CITY – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra realized there would be no breaks after Miami eliminated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, especially at point guard.
Rajon Rondo caused the Heat major problems throughout the series, including a 44-point effort in Game 2.
In the first game of the NBA Finals, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook torched the Heat for 27 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds. Miami’s plan was to limit the aggressiveness and dribble penetration of Westbrook in Game 2.
Westbrook had 27 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, but he shot 10 of 26 in a 100-96 loss to the Heat Thursday night.
Rondo and Westbrook are equally effective but distinct point guards. Rondo is a pass-first type who is a reluctant but capable scorer and pesky defender and rebounder.
Westbrook relies on his athletic prowess to attack the basket and has no hesitation in pulling up for the midrange jumper.
Westbrook struggled in the early going of Game 1 but rallied for 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in the second half while committing just a single turnover.
“Both of them are equally challenging in a different way,’’ Spoelstra said.
“Rondo is such a brilliant basketball maestro, reads a game. As soon as you turn your head and make one mistake, he makes you pay for it.
“[Westbrook] is a relentless assault that just keeps on coming, and if you’re not back ahead of the play, body in front of it, and multiple bodies in front of it, he’ll make you pay. And that relentlessness is probably part of his greatness.’’
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