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Continued: Zgoda: Five questions for the NBA playoffs

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  • Last update: April 20, 2013 - 3:32 PM

No playoff player is more polarizing that the Oklahoma City point guard, who alternately delights and confounds even his coach — sometimes on the same play.

With Chicago’s Derrick Rose apparently out for the season and these playoffs, Westbrook is a singular combination of size, speed and strength at that position. He’s also a guy prone to shoot too much — particularly with a guy named Kevin Durant on his team already — and then there’s that temperament that led him to storm off the court when he was pulled from the game for barking at a teammate and hoisting a wild shot during a January contest.

Barkley at the time on the air implored Thunder coach Scott Brooks to “handle this” and said Westbrook must “grow up” or an OKC team that traded away James Harden to Houston after reaching the NBA Finals last spring can’t win a championship.

“This thing is going to show its ugly head deep in the playoffs if they don’t,” he said.

But now that Harden meets his old mates in a first-round matchup, Saunders said the same thing that makes Westbrook a nightmare to defend — his aggressiveness — is also what causes the second-guessing.

“The guy plays every night, gives everything he has,” Saunders said. “I think the last time he missed a game was probably in elementary school.

“The benefit and rewards of what he does and how aggressive he plays far outweigh the negatives that happen over the course of a game.”









 

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