New York Knicks-Oklahoma City Thunder Preview: Dealing with Russell Westbrook
Nov 26, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a play against the Detroit Pistons during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks host the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night at Madison Square Garden. That means dealing with Russell Westbrook.

  • New York Knicks (8-8)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (10-8)
  • 7:30 PM ET on MSG
  • Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Previewing a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder isn’t difficult. It’s going to be a lot of Russell Westbrook. The New York Knicks won’t be able to stop him. They’ll just have to contain his dominance and hope for minimal production from Westbrook’s teammates.

No matter what the Knicks do Westbrook will approach a triple-double. He already has seven this season. Head coach Jeff Hornacek pointed out one of the soundest strategies to limiting Westbrook’s points.

Russ leads the league in free throw attempts per game (10.7) and total free throws attempted (192). Keeping him off the line is a lot easier said than done.

He’s first in the league in usage percentage (40.8%) by a mile — DeMarcus Cousins is second at 36.2% — meaning that Westbrook accounts for over 40% of Oklahoma City’s plays. That would be a record-setting level of impact.

In case you still haven’t gotten a read on how important Westbrook is to Oklahoma City’s success well let’s try this.

Per NBA.com, in the 637 minutes that Westbrook is on the court, the Thunder average 107.1 points per 100 possessions and in the 242 minutes without him, they plummet to a dreadful 90.1 points per 100 possessions.

For context, the 107.1 points per 100 possessions would put them in the top five in NBA offenses. The 90.1 would them in the D-league.

No disrespect to Victor Oladipo or Steven Adams, but this team lives and dies with Russ.

Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.

 NEXT: New York Knicks: Lance Thomas (Ankle) Out Tonight vs. OKC Thunder 


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