Hierarchy Established?

It may have taken 7 games but it looks as though Robin, in Oklahoma City’s very own Batman and Robin combination, has finally realized his place.

For some odd reason, the mentality of Kobe Bryant, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss have rolled into one man’s brain. Highlighted by a triple overtime win against the Grizzlies in game 4, it was apparent that Russell Westbrook’s ego had expanded as large as Jared before he got on Subway.

Even though the Thunder won game 4 and Westbrook scored 40, the alarm bells were ringing loud. Time after time, Westbrook felt it was his duty to play the isolation game while Batman played spectator. He took 33 shots compared to Durant’s 20, while Durant still poured in a very efficient 35 points.

Throughout the year, Westbrook has played as if he has the talent and burden Derrick Rose possesses. This has been a problem for Oklahoma but the bright lights of the NBA playoffs have magnified the situation. Westbrook had to change. Prior to game 7, Westbrook had taken 134 shots compared to Durant’s 105. That just ain’t right.

In game 7, Westbrook took 12 shots compared to Durant’s 25. Well that’s more like it.

Thunder fans better hope that this is a sign of things to come in the Western Conference Finals.

Westbrook is one of the most explosive players in the NBA but he is not one of the best. It baffles me that playing beside the league’s leading scorer hasn’t kept that massive ego from swelling. Obviously no one else in the Thunder organization has been able to keep his ego in check either and it almost cost them an early exit.

It doesn’t matter if Westbrook figured this one out on his own. All that matters is that he changed. He was able to resign himself to the fact that he is Robin and that Robin is the sidekick.

Kevin Durant showed us all that he has the heart of a champion but he couldn’t have done it without his sidekick doing his job. Westbrook had 14 assists and became one of only a select few NBA players to have put up a triple-double in a game 7.

Putting all of this on Westbrook might not completely fair because Durant has to be more assertive. Kevin Durant is the boss and Westbrook needs to know that.

Coming up as clutch as he did had to show Russell Westbrook whose team it really is.

Russell Westbrook is becoming one of the NBA’s premiere point guards but he will always be second fiddle as long as Kevin Durant is around.

Game 7 cannot be an anomaly for the Thunder. It has to become a recurring theme not only for the immediate prospects of the franchise but also for the future. It’s scary to think that Durant and Westbrook are both 22. However, the Thunder are not nearly as scary if Westbrook has any intentions of continuing his campaign to be top dog.

We all know that Batman and Robin can be a lethal team but if Robin wants to be Batman then the whole dynamic is thrown out the window. If the Oklahoma City Thunder want the future to be now, Russell Westbrook needs to decide which character he wants to play.

Hopefully he knows that there is only 1 choice.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Miami Heat Get the Easy Route

Maybe the road is as easy as they thought it would be

The big 3 took the low road to winning a championship. Public reaction to Lebron’s dreadful 1 hour decision special could have been mistaken for the King selling his soul to the devil for a championship.

The highway to hell looks pretty good right about now.

Prior to the beginning of the playoffs it was almost inconceivable that the Miami Heat could be staring at a title after two rounds without Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in their way. The Lakers were supposed to be the final obstacle but an inevitable meeting with the Boston Celtics meant that the team built to win 5 championships might not even get out of the second round.

Screw logic.

The Heat ousted a Celtic team that probably needed a M.A.S.H unit on site more than anything else. L.A. was swept in convincing fashion by a Maverick squad desperate to remove the dreaded choke label that has surrounded the Dirk Nowitzki era.

It wasn’t unimaginable in any sense to see the Heat overcome the Celtics. However, taking down a Boston team that has been able to turn their game on with the flip of a switch was undeniably impressive.

The Heat are now the favourites to win the 2011 NBA championship and there isn’t any reasonable logic that should suggest otherwise. Everyone knows their two biggest hurdles have been overcome, with a little help from the Dallas Mavericks.

Due to a bit of an Oprah mishap, the Heat and Bulls are forced to start their series a day earlier than expected at the United Centre on Sunday. Wait, the Chicago Bulls?

Oh yeah, the number 1 seed out of the Eastern conference.

My personal favourite writer, Jason Whitlock, recently wrote a column on FoxSports saying that the Heat are no match for the Bulls. It may be plausible but it sounds like Mr. Whitlock just wanted to turn some heads and add some extra page views for Fox’s website.

He says that “the popular narrative is the Bulls look terrible, particularly on offense, against an IQ-challenged Atlanta squad.”

Really? I think the story goes more along the lines of a number 1 seeded team struggling against a 37-win Pacer team absent of any serious firepower. The Bulls are a one man show. Carlos Boozer has been a sorry excuse for a sidekick and the absence of consistency on his part isn’t going to change under the bright lights of the Conference Finals.

The emotional high of overcoming the Celtics is nothing like the Jets advancing over New England contrary to what Whitlock attempts to point out. The Jets weren’t nearly as good a team in relative terms compared to the Heat. It’s as simple as that.

Related: Miami is Wade Country

Miami is clicking as a team and the fact that the wins came easier because of the dislocated elbow of Rondo and lack of a healthy Shaquille O’Neal shouldn’t overshadow the evidence right in front of us. More importantly, the Heat have now proved that they can win meaningful and challenging playoff games.

The popular narrative coming from the Heat players is that the 3 losses to the Bulls during the regular season don’t indicate anything. They’re saying that this is a different Heat team that we are seeing.

As much as I hate clichés, they’re exactly right. Despite the brutal play of supporting cast members like Bibby and Miller, the Heat have found a rotation that works. Starting Joel Anthony at centre instead of Big Z has injected some real life into the front court.

Rose has shot 42% from the field and a sad 25% from beyond the arc in the playoffs. If Derrick Rose is off for the Bulls it’s game over. That’s not the case for the Miami Heat.

The Heat have been blessed with a ridiculously straightforward path to a championship compared to what they could have faced. It was supposed to get harder, not easier.

It’s almost as if we are handing the Heat a championship on a silver platter. No one is doing that. Not yet. Winning a championship is never easy and I’m sure the Heat have learned that by now.

Any of the 4 other remaining teams in the playoffs can and most likely will give the Heat trouble. It’s just not the magnitude of trouble that we expected.

If the regular season has told us anything, it’s that we should have believed a lot of what we saw. There are no dominant teams and seeing last year’s NBA finalists knocked out of the second round clarified that.

Anyone would be a fool not to believe that the Miami Heat are the team to beat. Two pre-season favourites are gone and the Heat have suddenly transformed from the bunch who took the low road to the team with the easy road.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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