It was the marquee match-up heading into the San Antonio Spurs - Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference Finals: Tony Parker versus Russell Westbrook. Two of the best point guards in the NBA colliding with an NBA Finals appearance at stake.
For Parker it would mean a fourth ring, for Westbrook his first.
TP has been playing at an all-time high all season and garnered MVP mentions (and votes), Westbrook is that up-and-coming point guard ready to make the next step, and be the floor leader for OKC who can guide them to the NBA Finals after coming up short last season.
Leading up to their Conference Finals match-up, Parker had to deal with much more difficult competition at the point guard spot with Devin Harris and Chris Paul (albeit a banged up CP3) while Westbrook dealt with an aged Jason Kidd and Steve Blake and Ramon Sessions.
And with all the hype in anticipation of this match-up, after two games, it's been one-sided in favor of Parker.
Parker has led the Spurs to a 2-0 series lead with steady play, smart decision making, involving his teammates and displaying that championship experience while Westbrook has been playing well but tends to force the action, and tries to be a one-man-wrecking crew.
So how much is TP outplaying Westbrook? Check out the stats (via NBA StatsCube) and like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Sure Westbrook may be lagging behind TP in most statistical categories but if the Spurs and Parker win the series, this is just another stepping stone for Westbrook's path to becoming a championship point guard.
Prior to the series, Parker told Westbrook that he hasn't seen a guard like him in these playoffs. And so far TP is right. Call it bravado but so far, TP is right and if I am Westbrook, I am taking notes.
Getting to see Parker play first-hand can only do wonders for Russell's continued development. It will not only benefit him, but the Thunder as well. He is seeing what a true championship point guard shows poise, mental focus, and gets teammates involved. This team is knocking on the door at becoming an NBA champion but it needs Westbrook to be what TP is for the Spurs.
Sure, one may say Parker has a better team overall to work with while Westbrook team isn't as deep so perhaps the stats may be slanted to Parker but when it comes to an individual performance, Parker is reminding not only Westbrook but the rest of the NBA, that when it comes to the best point guards in the NBA, his name should be high on the list.
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