Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook may miss multiple games in their first-round playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder with a strained right quadriceps, per the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.
Westbrook suffered the injury three games into the restart. He returned against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, collecting 20 points, six assists and five rebounds in 28 minutes of defeat. After feeling no ill-effect in the immediate aftermath of the game, he expected to be ready for the playoffs. According to Feigen, the former MVP woke up sore on Wednesday, and an MRI revealed a strain concerning enough to sideline him.
The Rockets announced the results of the MRI on Thursday, ruling Westbrook out for Friday’s regular-season finale against the Philadelphia 76ers and scheduling a reevaluation before beginning the playoffs on either Monday or Tuesday. According to Feigen, the team is preparing for the Thunder with the expectations that Westbrook “will be out for the first few games of next week’s playoff series and possibly longer.”
Since being traded from Oklahoma City for Chris Paul last summer, Westbrook has averaged 27.2 points (on 47/26/76 shooting splits), 7.9 rebounds and seven assists in 35.9 minutes per game for his new team. The Thunder own an identical record to the Rockets, despite losing both Westbrook and Paul George.
Oklahoma City’s attack is built on three-guard lineups featuring Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder. Houston’s ability to counter that potent trio is predicated on the presence of Westbrook, James Harden and Eric Gordon, who returned from an ankle injury to a minutes restriction on Wednesday. The onus again falls on Harden, a perennial MVP candidate plagued by a history of poor playoff performances.
After losing to the Rockets in the third game of the season, Paul led the Thunder to a pair of victories against his former team in January. Both Westbrook and Harden were available for all three meetings. Westbrook has averaged 29 points (59/13/73 splits), 8.7 assists and 8.3 rebounds against OKC this season.
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