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Russell Westbrook is Destroying the Mavs...From Outside the Paint

Russell Westbrook.
Russell Westbrook.

Maybe the Mavericks should force Russell Westbrook to the rim some more.

Wait. What?

The plan the Mavericks used to limit Westbrook's effectiveness in the 2011 Western Conference Finals is blowing up in their faces. Mainly by Russell Westbrook and his darn pistol hands.

Last year, with Tyson Chandler, Dallas went under ever screen and roll involving Westbrook, allowing Chandler to hedge and keep Westbrook out of the paint until the defender recovered and sometimes coaxing him into the midrange jumper.

Westbrook struggled to consistently hit it, Shawn Marion made life reasonably tough on Kevin Durant and the Mavericks prevailed. In two games in this 2012 first-round series, it's a completely different story.

According to Hoopdata, Westbrook is shooting 55.6 percent (15-of-27) from shots between 10-23 feet. To put that into perspective, that's more shots attempted and made from that range then Dirk Nowitzki in these two games (Dirk is 10-of-16 from that distance.)

This has completely thwarted plenty of good things the Mavericks have done in this series, like getting to the free throw line, holding Kevin Durant to sub-40 percent shooting and competing well on the boards. But here's the funnier thing: Westbrook's shooting percentage at the rim in two games is 41.7 percent (5-of-12). Mind-boggling, considering Westbrook shot 40.4 percent from the 10-23 feet range during the regular season.

Or pehaps it isn't so crazy when actually watching the game. There appears to be no faults in Westbrook's form as he goes up for the jumper. He's straight up and down with a clean follow through, no hitch or anything. Perhaps it was only a matter of time and practice before this version of Westbrook was unleashed.

But it is strange that it just magically appears in the playoffs after a regular season where he shot very poorly from that area. For the Mavericks sake, they're at a crossroads: Do they push Westbrook away from that midrange jumper and condeade whatever damage he could do at the rim or just live with the defense they've been playing and hope Westbrook's numbers return to their regular season average? It's a tricky situation for Rick Carlisle.

Personally, I'd allow Westbrook to keep shooting those jumpers. The Thunder have already done enough to get the Mavericks into foul trouble, allowing Westbrook to get closer to the basket will only hamper that more.

And if Westbrook keeps raining in those jumpers? Then may God have mercy not just for Maverick fans souls, but of fans of every other NBA team.