Grizzlies-Thunder: Russell Westbrook Needs 16 Rebounds for Triple-Double History

Jordan Sharp

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 11:21 AM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 11, 2018 11:21 AM UTC

On Monday, the Thunder finally clinched a playoff spot in what has been an extremely tough Western Conference this season. Now, OKC has one final regular-season game vs. the Grizzlies on Wednesday where Russell Westbrook can make triple-double history.

Triple-Double Mania

Russell Westbrook needs 16 rebounds Wednesday vs. terrible Memphis to average a triple-double for the second straight season. Last year, Westbrook became the first player to average a season-long triple-double since Oscar Robertson, and this year with an improved team around him Westbrook is on the verge of writing his name into basketball history.

One Las Vegas book has NBA odds of -800 that Westbrook will accomplish the feat, and you can bet he wants to do it. Despite the Thunder already being in the playoffs, a win combined with losses from the Spurs or Pelicans could help them move up the standings and away from the Rockets and Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.

Should Thunder Risk It?

Last season, the quest for averaging a triple-double for Westbrook was easier. He didn’t have Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to take the ball out of his hands, and it was quite literally a one-man show. The Thunder didn’t have a shot at an NBA title, and so the focus was squarely on making sure Westbrook averaged a triple-double.

This year, things are different. The Thunder have a legit chance at an upset and a Western Conference Finals run if they stay healthy, and that’s exactly the battle Billy Donovan is facing tonight. Should he play Westbrook and the starters against Memphis to insure the win and try for Westbrook’s triple-double? Or, worried about injury, should Donovan sit his vets and accept a first-round matchup with the Stephen Curry-less Golden State Warriors?

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It’s a tough spot to be in for a still unproven NBA coach, and probably a lose-lose for Donovan. On the one hand, Westbrook is probably lobbying to play, which won’t make his decision easier. On top of that, being written in as the coach who oversaw back-to-back triple-double seasons is a nice part of basketball history.

However, the Thunder probably think they can beat the Grizzlies without Westbrook, so that will make it harder on the point guard to play heavy minutes. The Thunder management and coaching staff are probably trying to explain that one sprained ankle for Westbrook could derail the entire postseason for this team. Donovan would also get the blame regardless if it’s his fault or not.

If Westbrook plays and gets hurt in a somewhat meaningless game, the blame will fall firmly on the coach. Luckily for the Thunder, they can hide behind the fact that their playoff positioning has yet to be locked up. Under the guise of not wanting to play the Warriors in the first round and hoping to move up the standings, the Thunder are probably going to let Westbrook go for history.

How To Bet These NBA Odds

The sportsbooks are probably waiting on advanced notice that Westbrook is going to play before releasing any triple-double or rebounding props for this game. Assuming we get that word, Westbrook will be going after every rebound that comes close to him if he plays.

The Thunder will probably let him too. Usually in basketball the point guard is the one who gets back on defense, but that will surely fall to Corey Brewer tonight, as the Thunder will send Westbrook to the hoop every time the other team or even someone else on the Thunder shoots the ball.

Westbrook has recorded 16 rebounds in two of his last three games, and he has racked up 16 or more rebounds six times this season and 16 times throughout his career. It’s a great sign that most of his big rebounding games have come this season. Both of Westbrook’s games against the Grizzlies this year have ended in Russ racking up double-digit rebounds, and Westbrook has some nice rebounding history against Memphis.

Over his last five games against the Grizzlies dating back to last season, Westbrook is averaging 11.8 rebounds in just under 40 minutes per contest. Even though Westbrook almost surely won’t see 40 minutes of playing time tonight, but the fact that Memphis is a below-average rebounding team this season helps Westbrook a lot in his quest for history.

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