OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Thunder hope dynamic point guard Russell Westbrook is the difference when they meet the Memphis Grizzlies in the playoffs.
A year ago, Memphis blew past Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals, but the Thunder were without Westbrook because he injured his right knee during the first round. He is healthy now, and the Thunder are confident heading into this year's first-round series with the Grizzlies, which starts Saturday night.
Westbrook's athletic ability is especially difficult to handle because scoring champion Kevin Durant draws so much attention. It limits the options for dealing with Westbrook, a three-time All-Star.
Since returning from his latest surgery, Westbrook has averaged 22.3 points, 6.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said those are all-NBA-level numbers.