Russell Westbrook’s Injury Status For Game 4 vs Thunder
Russell Westbrook has sat out of each of the Houston Rockets’ first three postseason games thus far. Despite his absence, Houston currently holds a 2-1 series lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
On Sunday, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni indicated that Westbrook’s quad strain was healing and his health was trending in the right direction.
“I do know that today has gone great and [Westbrook] is really working hard, and it feels like he’s getting closer,” he said.
“He’s living in the training room, putting a lot of movement into it now so he can get to 100 percent.”
No Russell Westbrook update yet for Game 4.
Mike D’Antoni: “It feels like it’s getting closer. He’s living in the training room. He’s putting a lot of movement into it now.”
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) August 23, 2020
That said, an official decision on when the former league MVP will return to the court has not yet been made.
Russell Westbrook’s Absence Was Obvious In Game 3
For the first two games of the series, Houston did not look like they would even need Westbrook. Harden scored 37 points in the first outing, and 38 in the second.
That all changed in Game 3, when OKC decided to sic Lugentz Dort onto James Harden. With their main offensive threat suddenly slowed down, the Rockets immediately began to look very vulnerable.
“[Dort] is a good defensive player,” D’Antoni said following his team’s 119-107 defeat.
“He’s putting everything into it. He’s strong and he gets through picks. He’s doing a good job.”
In Game 3, nobody stepped up to pick up the slack when Harden couldn’t deliver offensively. Eric Gordon went of 8-of-24. Austin Rivers went 2-of-7.
This is where the team really could have used Westbrook. And frankly, it sounds like his teammates would prefer to have him on the court with them instead of on the sidelines.
Forward Jeff Green was asked recently what Westbrook has been like on the bench over the last few games.
“What has Russ been like? You want an honest answer? Annoying; really annoying,” he said.
How can you hate Russell Westbrook pic.twitter.com/KIzAjlVGeE
— Master (@MasterTes) August 20, 2020
“What you see is what you get with Russ,” Green added.
“Even though he’s not playing, it feels like he is because his attention to detail and his focus and his demeanor is like he is playing. That’s Russ 24/7. I love it.”
Russell Westbrook’s Quad Is A Lingering Concern
Regardless of when Westbrook comes back, his quad will remain a concern.
Back on August 4 when the Rockets defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 110-102, there was very obviously something off with Westbrook. He looked sluggish, missed seven free shots from the charity stripe, and did not score at least 20 points for the first time in 37 games. It was later revealed that he suffered a right quadriceps contusion.
The injury kept him out for a week, until he returned on August 11 versus the San Antonio Spurs. Westbrook ended up recording 20 points, six assists and five rebounds in 27 minutes, and the prevailing wisdom was that he was back.
Shortly thereafter, word emerged that Westbrook was hurt again and would need to miss the first several games of his team’s first round series against the Thunder.
Given the reoccurring nature of this injury, and taking into account that he has already come back and subsequently been forced out once, it makes sense that the Rockets would not rush him back this time around – no matter how much they need him.
Game 4 between Houston and Oklahoma City is scheduled for Monday, August 24. Further clarity on Westbrook’s status should be provided at some point between now and then.