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Russell Westbrook expected to sit out vs. Grizzlies Monday on second half of Rockets’ back-to-back

Rockets, Russell Westbrook

Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook will suit up against the Miami Heat on Sunday night, but he is already expected to miss the second game of a back-to-back on Monday against the Memphis Grizzlies:

The term “load management” is not one that has ever been associated with someone like Westbrook. There may still be some questions about his shooting hand, which he injured during preseason.

Or, perhaps D’Antoni and the Rockets really are giving Westbrook a breather. The superstar point guard is already playing close to 35 minutes per night, and his absence would not necessarily negate Houston’s optimism, especially with James Harden taking over as the primary ball handler.

Westbrook has been excellent for the Rockets thus far. Through five games, the former MVP is averaging 23.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game while shooting close to 50 percent from the field.

Although he is still struggling to find a rhythm from the perimeter (27 percent from deep), Westbrook is having tremendous success playing at D’Antoni’s “six seconds or less” pace while also being a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.

Chemistry concerns regarding how Westbrook and Harden would gel should be thrown out the window. Harden himself has been immensely inefficient and has pressed to get going from the perimeter, but the Rockets still rank first in the NBA in pace and points per game. However, Houston is just 3-2 after the first five games as they have the worst defense in the league.

The Rockets will miss Westbrook’s motor and infectious energy on Monday night.