Though Russell Westbrook makes plenty of cases for why he should be the NBA MVP every time he takes the court, perhaps the best evidence of his value occurs when he sits.
Without their star point guard on the court, the Oklahoma City Thunder simply look lost. Simply put, without Westbrook, the Thunder have no business taking the court for a playoff game.
That was made perfectly clear on Wednesday night in OKC's 115-111 Game 2 loss to the Houston Rockets as Westbrook tried to grab a couple of minutes of rest at the end of the third quarter.
As you can see in the video below, Westbrook sits down with 2:21 remaining in the period and the Thunder up by 12 points. By the time the third quarter ends, though, the Rockets have closed the gap to just three points via an impressive 12-3 run:
To be fair, having Westbrook on the court probably wouldn't have slowed down Houston's fast-paced offense. But, at the very least, having Russ in the game would have given the Thunder some firepower of their own to match the Rockets.
Westbrook came back to start the fourth quarter and turned in a superhuman performance, netting 51 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to carry his hapless teammates to a victory.
The Thunder's next leading scorer, Andre Roberson, only had 12 points, though he scored his points on only 12 shots. Westbrook, on the other hand, shot a whopping 43 times from the floor on Wednesday.
Houston star James Harden, meanwhile, scored 35 points while taking only 17 shots (and going an impressive 18-for-20 from the free-throw line). He told ESPN.com after the game that it wasn't the Rockets' best effort, but they did what they needed to do to protect their home court and gain a 2-0 series lead:
"It wasn't pretty," Harden said. "We didn't make a lot of shots. We gave them the early lead and we had to fight our way back and we did. We didn't give up. We continued to fight and grind and figure out a way to win."
When Westbrook returned to the court for the fourth quarter, he didn't exactly light the net on fire, hitting just four of his 18 shot attempts during the final period of play.
Still, as you saw above, the alternative - having Westbrook sit to get some rest - has disastrous consequences for OKC.
Unfortunately for Thunder fans, this year's squad doesn't look like it will get a chance to figure things out before the Rockets eliminate them from the playoffs.