Westbrook, who has been battling a quadriceps injury, will miss Game 1 of that series, according to Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Westbrook originally injured his quad just three games into the NBA restart, and returned a week later against the San Antonio Spurs. He played 28 minutes in that game and seemed to be fine, but woke up sore the next day. The Rockets sent him for an MRI and found the strain, and not only did he miss the Rockets’ final bubble game, but the team started reportedly preparing to be without Westbrook for at least the first few games of the playoffs.
D’Antoni said that guard Eric Gordon will start in Westbrook’s place, and he seems ready to go.
With or without Westbrook, the series between the Rockets and Thunder will be fascinating. Oklahoma City traded Westbrook to the Rockets last offseason in exchange for Chris Paul, and also sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers. It looked like the Thunder were headed for a rebuild, but a resurgent Paul jelled with his new team and led them to a fifth-place finish in the Western Conference.
Despite the Rockets gaining Westbrook and the Thunder losing him and Paul, the two teams start the playoffs with identical 44-28 records. It’s likely to be a dynamite showdown, but Westbrook will have to wait at least one game (if not more) to get involved.
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