The Thunder managed to win their first game of the series on Friday, defeating the Rockets 115-113. The Thunder were led by Russell Westbrook again, who finished with another triple-double, in addition to pouring in 32 points. But while Westbrook’s performance was exceptional, Victor Oladipo was the real hero in Game-Three.
Oladipo scored 12 points in 35 minutes on Friday night, while shooting an efficient 5-8 from the field. He also added six rebounds and two assists. His defensive was stellar as well, as he added two steals to his line. Out of all the players that stepped on the floor for the Thunder last night, including Westbrook, none had a higher plus-minus than Oladipo. In the 35 minutes he was on the floor, he had a plus-minus of positive nine.
This was a great bounce back game for Oladipo, who struggled to help the team in their Game-Two loss on Wednesday. During that contest, he had a plus-minus of zero and scored only 11 points, adding nine rebounds. Game-One was even worse for the shooting guard out of Indiana, as he had a plus-minus of -19. He scored only six points on 1/12 shooting.
In the series, Oladipo is averaging 9.7 points, and 6 rebounds per game on 29.4% shooting. In the first two games in Houston, Oladipo disappointed but he made up for it in last night’s crucial Game-Three win.
Throughout the season, the X-factor for the Thunder has not been Russell Westbrook, it has been Oladipo. Westbrook is going to go out there and get his minutes and his triple-doubles, but with Oladipo, you never know what you are going to get. It is time that he shows up in the playoffs and leads this team to the improbable 2-2 series tie.
Oladipo has been Westbrook’s second-hand man, ever since the Thunder shipped off Serge Ibaka to get him. They knew that in the playoffs, without Durant, they were going to have to get a lot out of Oladipo. Like I said before, that time is now. Game-Three was a great start but we need to start to see some consistency.
Victor Oladipo was the unsung hero of Game-Three, playing well on both sides of the ball. Now it is time for him to represent a model of consistency the rest of the series. Westbrook needs his second-hand man, and Oladipo is that guy. If he plays like he did in Game-Three, this Thunder team gets a whole lot more dangerous.