The Houston Rockets will go as far as Westbrook takes them
Russell Westbrook is the most important factor for the Rockets at this time because I believe he has more to lose than Harden does. Westbrook hasn’t won a first-round playoff series since the 2016 NBA Playoffs.
He’s been held responsible for Kevin Durant’s departure, the Thunder’s lack of success after his departure and their disappointing playoff exit to the Portland Trail Blazers when he was playing alongside Paul George.
Westbrook has been accused of stat-padding instead of just playing the game. He’s also been beaten down by the media, fans and other players in the league for his failures on the court. Now that he finds himself with a team that has a legitimate chance to win, I believe he’ll be willing to move heaven and earth to prove he’s not the problem — he’s the solution.
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The Rockets recognized the Paul and Harden duo wasn’t going to work out going forward and they needed to bring in another guy that could not only get along with Harden but elevate him to another level as a teammate.
The Rockets came to the conclusion that Westbrook was the guy they needed to replace Paul and give them the absolute best chance to win the NBA title as soon as possible.
Westbrook realizes what the Rockets brought him in for and knows what’s at stake for all involved.
As good as Harden is, he hasn’t proven he can lead a team to the promised land, but now Westbrook is by his side to help guide him there.
Russell understands Harden and as they go through the season and into the playoffs, he can help inspire James with his play and the passionate leadership he displays on and off the court.
Westbrook is a pillar of the community off the court. The same mentality he uses to help people the less fortunate is the same mentality he can use to motivate Harden and to give the best version of himself throughout the playoffs.
Harden has to learn that his isolation and multi-dribble offensive game isn’t going to work this time around. He has tried that numerous times in previous playoffs series and Houston always comes up short.
Westbrook is the only person who can get the best out of Harden because he helped him do the same thing when they were teammates in Oklahoma City. Harden is the best player on the team, but I believe Westbrook is the heart of the team. Without a heart, the team is dead.