OKLAHOMA CITY -- Brett Brown has seen a lot of basketball in his life -- championship, Hall of Fame ball at that.
The 34 triple-doubles and 31.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.3 assists from Russell Westbrook this season, though, that's on another level.
"There is no guard that has been more dominant in my NBA days, 16 years of them, than the numbers that we're seeing Russell Westbrook put up," Brett Brown said at Sixers shootaround Wednesday.
The 6-foot-3 point guard leads the NBA in scoring, ranks third in assists and 10th in rebounds. He also is first in triple-doubles and second in double-doubles (52).
There's nothing cordial or subtle about Westbrook's feelings toward his opponents, and Brown likes it that way.
Westbrook's "with us or against us" mentality includes his feelings towards Kevin Durant for leaving the Thunder and the dismissal of Steph Curry's recent comment that he believes James Harden will win MVP.
That outlook plays into Westbrook's MVP-caliber season, the reason why the Thunder are 40-30 and sitting in the sixth spot in the Western Conference heading into Wednesday's game against the Sixers.
Brown knows the mindset needed to win a title. He appreciates the way Westbrook goes about it, even if it's different than what he experienced as a coach for the Spurs.
"The Spurs did it with more of a -- it was a polite way to do it," Brown said. "He's not polite about it. KG (Kevin Garnett) wasn't polite about it. Kobe Bryant wasn't polite about it. It still gets back to the respect you have for that. No matter how they present it, whether it's polite or not, and it's really hard to present that endearing quality that I'm in love with in a polite way.
"So there was a different mindset because you could say (Manu) Ginobili and (Tim) Duncan had that too, but not to the demonstrative way that Russell has it, or KG, or Kobe. I say that with complete admiration. Tonight, you can just read facial expressions and body language, and you've got somebody that's knocking out historic numbers and has (dragged) his team into being in the playoffs after the departure of Kevin Durant."
On opening night, Westbrook dropped 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists against the Sixers.
Brown looks at the first three seconds of a possession as critical to defending Westbrook. There is no easy formula to restricting him, and it will be a total team effort beyond the point guards.
"So much of it is, and it's kind of cruel because it's so hard, it's like, can you keep the game in front of you?" Brown said.
"Then, can you do it without fouling? He's a master at taking his breakaway speed and reckless abandon and fearless approach and parlaying it into 10, 12, 14 free throws.
"Some of that isn't always the guy that's guarding him. It's the second line people trying to show verticality and not come over. Sometimes just through inertia, you get torpedoed in the chest and you inevitably bend a little bit. But there's a discipline with our bigs to show verticality, make him make tough shots at the rim to the point of who are the candidates that have Russell? He'll see different looks from us. ... We'll live with pull-ups, not layups."
The Sixers will find out later in the day if part of their game plan against Westbrook will include Jahlil Okafor. The big man is listed as questionable against the Thunder because of right knee soreness. He did not play Monday in Orlando.
"He looked OK but it still doesn't take him out of the questionable category," Brown said. "We'll be able to share what's going on better before the game tonight. Get him a real good workout and give everybody information after that."
Splitter takes the court
Veteran center Tiago Splitter, who hasn't played since coming over to the Sixers from the Hawks in the Ersan Ilyasova trade last month, made his first appearance with the Delaware 87ers Wednesday as his rehab from a calf strain continues.
In 14 minutes in the 87ers' win, Splitter had five points (1 for 6 FG, 3 for 3 FT) with three rebounds, two assists and a block.
"I thought he was fine," head coach Eugene Burroughs said. "The first game he's played so it's always tough when you haven't played in a while to try and get in a rhythm and get back in the flow. But I thought he did some great things, set some great screens, had some great verticality in the lane defensively and had some really good passes. A guy like that knows how to play basketball."