Yet despite his many mistakes, Westbrook’s physical edge over Conley allowed him to get into the lane and create shots at will. That’s why the key tactical move of this series so far was Lionel Hollins’ decision to start OJ Mayo in the second half of Game 3 and switch him onto Westbrook.
While Mayo isn’t an elite perimeter defender by any stretch, at 6’5 200, he has much more size to combat Westbrook. And on the other side of the floor, his ability to knock down 3′s (a career 38% shooter from long-range) gives Memphis some desperately needed floor spacing in the half-court.
Most importantly, his repeated forays to the basket in the second half convinced Thunder coach Scott Brooks to insert defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha into the game for James Harden.