Russell Westbrook on what Thunder need to improve: “Mental toughness”
The Oklahoma City Thunder played a brilliant series against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. It was the toughest test the defending champions have faced in their two-season run. By far.
Yet there is a narrative that the Thunder choked, something even Jason Terry said on his new show on SiriusXM NBA Radio.
To me, “choked” is too strong a word and discounts the superhuman effort and shotmaking of Klay Thompson in Game 6 — if he’s not hitting every ridiculous shot he throws up the Thunder do win. That said, the Thunder did revert to bad habits — they tried to run the clock down and started plays with not enough time to get to second options, and they ran too much isolation. They became defendable. That opened the door.
Russell Westbrook owned up to that in his exit interview. He was asked what the Thunder need to do to improve for next season in his exit interview and gave an honest answer, as reported by The Oklahoman.
He’s right. And how the series against Golden State ended may help teach the Thunder that lesson.
The Thunder are legitimate contenders to win the NBA title next season. Providing they can keep Kevin Durant. But painful losses on the doorstep can sear lessons into teams — think 2014 San Antonio Spurs, coming off that loss to Miami in the Finals (and the Ray Allen shot). That could be the Warriors next season.