Rockets star Russell Westbrook officially out for Game 1 vs. Thunder
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni confirmed that star point guard Russell Westbrook will miss Game 1 of their first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
It was previously reported that Westbrook was expected to miss the start of the playoffs due to a strained quadriceps. It’s unclear just when the explosive point man will be back in the lineup. Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists in 57 games this season, so he has big shoes to fill.
With Westbrook out, Eric Gordon is slated to be the primary defender against Thunder star Chris Paul. Of course, the Rockets will likely throw different looks at Paul throughout the game and series.
Gordon will also take on a heavier load offensively, but James Harden will obviously be the main man to count on. While Harden keeps an aggressive mindset no matter who’s on the court alongside him, Houston will need even more out of him with Westbrook sidelined.
The Rockets will continue to play their unique brand of small ball, but they almost certainly will not be playing quite as fast as they do when Westbrook is on the court. In past years before Westbrook came over from Oklahoma City in the Paul trade, Houston played a more deliberate style on offense. It was extremely effective, so expect to see that slower style in this series as long as Westbrook is out.
The Rockets finished this season with a 44-28 record. The Thunder also posted the same record, but Houston got the No. 4 seed. Down in the bubble, though, that obviously doesn’t mean as much.