The Rockets expect Russell Westbrook – who was diagnosed on Wednesday with a strained right quad – to miss at least “the first few games” of their first-round playoff series, reports Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
So far, the team has offered few concrete updates on Westbrook, only indicating that it will reevaluate his quad injury before the postseason begins next week. However, a source with knowledge of the Rockets’ thinking told Feigen on Thursday that the All-Star guard will at least miss the start of the playoffs and could be out longer than that.
It’s bad news for the Rockets, who are locked into a first-round matchup against Westbrook’s old team, the Thunder. The series promised a fascinating backcourt duel, with Westbrook, James Harden, and Eric Gordon going up against the Oklahoma City trio of Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schröder.
However, it sounds like Houston will have to make do without Westbrook for at least the first couple games of that series, forcing Harden, Gordon, and backup guards Austin Rivers and Ben McLemore to take on increased responsibilities.
Westbrook’s return timeline will depend on how he responds to treatment, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Hopefully, by the time the Rockets/Thunder series gets underway next Monday or Tuesday, we’ll have a better sense of when the former MVP might be able to return to the lineup.