Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook is uncertain for the start of the playoffs after an MRI revealed a strained muscle in his quadriceps, the team announced. Westbrook won't play in the final seeding game against the Philadelphia 76ers and he will be re-evaluated before the postseason kicks off next week.
Westbrook, who was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Rockets last offseason, will take on his former team in the first round of the playoffs if he recovers in time for the first round series. "We'll see how it responds and everything, but we all hope," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said regarding Westbrook's status for the start of the playoffs, as quoted on ESPN.
"We'll just see next week. I don't know right now." Westbrook, who arrived late to the NBA bubble in Orlando because he needed some additional time at home to recover from the coronavirus, first felt soreness in his right soreness just over a week ago when the Rockets lost to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Westbrook last played this Tuesday, when he scored 20 points, grabbed five rebounds and had six assists in 28 minutes played against the San Antonio Spurs. Rockets coach D'Antoni doesn't think playing the Spurs aggravated Westbrook's injury.
"I don't think he aggravated it," D'Antoni said. "During the game and after the game, he was fine. He woke up the next day and was sore, so they're checking it out to make sure it can respond to treatment.
We don't know 100 percent right now, but he's definitely going to be out Friday and then we'll see."
James Harden acknowledges others will have to step up
Nine-time NBA All Star Westbrook has averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game this season and not having him available for the playoffs would be a huge blow for the Rockets.
Rockets leading scorer and former NBA MVP James Harden underlines other starters and bench players would have to step up big time if Westbrook isn't ready to play. "Guys have opportunities to step up and have got to be ready to go and take advantage of the minutes," Harden said.
"Obviously, we all know how important Russ is to everything we're trying to accomplish. So the faster he can get his body right and get back on the court, the better off we'll be."