Report: Rockets upgrade Russell Westbrook to questionable for Game 5 — Rockets Wire

Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Westbrook could join the Rockets on the court for the first time in the 2020 NBA playoffs.

Report: Rockets upgrade Russell Westbrook to questionable for Game 5 — Rockets Wire

n the entire history of the NBA playoffs, best-of-seven series that are tied, 2-2, are won more than 80% of the time by the Game 5 winner.

Those are the stakes for Wednesday’s Game 5 between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. As a result, it’s an “all hands on deck” scenario for both teams — and for the Rockets, that could include injured All-Star guard Russell Westbrook, who has yet to play in the series.https://widgets.thescore.com/embeds/379ad259-7bec-478d-9788-a28695088c55/DE4B63807AD5C1FEB14D39CE5E54D146

Only hours before tipoff and barely over an hour after the 10 a.m. Central injury report listed Westbrook as out, the Rockets are upgrading him to questionable, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Rockets guard Russell Westbrook will be upgraded to questionable to play in Game 5 vs. OKC tonight. He had been out with a strained quadriceps muscle.

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) August 26, 2020

Westbrook has yet to play in the 2020 playoffs due to a right quad strain. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Westbrook will test his quad on the court before the game before making a gametime decision.

While unusual, the gameday upgrade isn’t unprecedented. For example, the Thunder listed Lu Dort as out a day before Game 2, only to upgrade his status on the morning of the game. Dort did play in that game.

Thunder guard Luguentz Dort upgraded from out to questionable. No changes with the Rockets. Westbrook, Mbah a Moute are out. https://t.co/31BPeld2K6

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) August 20, 2020

D’Antoni said last week that new MRI imaging had shown improvement in Westbrook’s quad relative to the prior week, and that he had begun doing some running and other on-court activities as of Friday.

The NBA’s automated cameras at the Disney World “bubble” captured Westbrook going through a series of drills at Houston’s Sunday practice, and he appeared to have minimal (if any) restrictions.

Russell Westbrook (right quad strain) remains listed as out for Game 4, but he has clearly increased his workload in recent days, as Mike D’Antoni had indicated. Here’s footage from today’s #Rockets practice. #OneMission pic.twitter.com/ht0qb65jQB

— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) August 23, 2020

At Tuesday’s practice, head coach Mike D’Antoni said Westbrook was “close” to a return. Among his comments:

Not going to rule anything out or anything in. We’ll see. …

As soon as they [the medical staff] tell me that he can go and he feels like he can go, he’ll go. … He’ll work out today and get on the court and see how he feels, and they’ll make a determination. It’s close. They’ll make a good call, and he’ll do the same.

Obviously, how Westbrook moves and looks at practice today and how he feels after and again tomorrow will go a long way toward answering if, when he can return and cannot be known yet. https://t.co/jaz2SK39Xi

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) August 25, 2020

Westbrook missed two seeding games with a right quad injury before playing 28 minutes versus San Antonio on Tuesday, Aug. 11. He was again ruled out the next day with an injury to that quad, and he hasn’t played since. Wednesday’s Game 5 would be 15 days since his last game.

Prior to Saturday’s Game 3, D’Antoni had conceded that Houston’s 2-0 edge in the series allowed them to be more cautious with Westbrook’s timetable. With the series now tied, 2-2, that may no longer be the case.

Related

Why Houston’s 2-0 lead could buy Russell Westbrook more time

Now 31 years old, Westbrook has averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in 35.9 minutes per game during a brilliant debut season in Houston. A nine-time NBA All-Star and the 2017 MVP, Westbrook shot a career-high 47.2% in the regular season with the Rockets — whose small-ball approach opened up more opportunities to attack the rim. He is the team’s No. 2 scorer, trailing only MVP finalist James Harden.

Game 5 between the Rockets and Thunder tips off at 5:30 p.m. Central on Wednesday, with a national broadcast on TNT and a regional version (with Houston announcers) on AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

Related

Despite being ‘close,’ Rockets say Russell Westbrook will miss Game 5

Mike D’Antoni on potential return of Russell Westbrook: ‘It’s close’

Houston’s Russell Westbrook is expected to test his strained quadriceps on the court prior to Game 5 vs. Oklahoma City today and make a gametime decision on returning, sources tell ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 26, 2020

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