Russell Westbrook (C) finished with a team-high 11 assists, eight rebounds and 27 points for Oklahoma City Thunder
The Miami Heat dropped the first game of the NBA finals to Oklahoma City and one of the biggest reasons was their failure to keep point guard Russell Westbrook in check.
Westbrook finished with a team-high 11 assists, eight rebounds and 27 points as Oklahoma City delivered the first blow of the best-of-seven championship series with a 105-94 win.
The Thunder could take a 2-0 series lead with a victory in Thursday's game two, also at home at the Chesapeake Arena.
"I only know one way to play and that is to stay in the attack mode," said the 23-year-old Westbrook at Wednesday's practice. "I can't change my style now because it got me to this point.
"That is how my coach and my teammates want me to play and that is all that matters."
Westbrook gave the Thunder their first lead of game one with 16 seconds to play in the third quarter by finishing off a three-point play to make it 74-73.
His success against the Heat Tuesday snapped a string of four sub-par performances against Miami. It was in contrast to his play in two games against the Heat in the regular season where he shot just nine-for-26 and four-for-16.
It was the same story last season as Westbrook shot seven-for-22 and five-for-16 against the Heat. In those four games, Westbrook averaged four turnovers per game.
Westbrook said he now has great chemistry on the floor with teammate Kevin Durant and they are always looking for each other as a passing option or to help finish off an offensive play.
"Kevin knows when two guys are on him he passes to me, so I have to stay in the attack mode," Westbrook said. "There have been games where it is frustrating trying to figure it out (between the two of them) but that is part of the learning process.
"We have gotten better at that the last few games and we are doing a great job of closing games out."
Westbrook, who starred at UCLA in college, was just three assists short of his career high (14) for a playoff game and he posted his second double figure assist game of this post-season on Tuesday.
He says the key to winning Thursday is to give themselves a head start by playing better in the first quarter.
"We definitely have more to give," Westbrook said. "We will start off the next game playing a lot harder defensively and if we do that you will see what this team can bring to the table and what we can do for a 48-minute game."