In the last half hour, the Houston Rockets have listed Russell Westbrook as out for Game 5 on Wednesday night. Westbrook is unable to play due to a quad injury. Westbrook has missed all of the playoffs so far with this injury.
The Rockets have listed Russell Westbrook (quad strain) as OUT for Wednesday's Game 5 against Oklahoma City— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) August 25, 2020
James Harden looked fatigued in Game 4 and the Rockets badly needed Westbrook to return. Westbrook’s return would have reduced the load that Harden carries on his shoulders. The Rockets did not get their wish; Westbrook will not play in Game 5.
This news has huge ramifications on Game 5 and the series as a whole. Oklahoma City have a very good chance at winning Game 5 with Russell sitting on the bench.
Westbrook’s return would have posed serious issues for the Thunder’s defense. Oklahoma City can lock in and focus on making Harden inefficient without Westbrook suiting up.
There is a very real possibility that the Thunder will be able to take the series lead and put themselves in a position to win a playoff series for the first time since 2016. The possibility of getting to the second round increase hugely with this news.
This news is a positive for the Thunder but the players cannot afford to get complacent. Oklahoma City won Game 3 and Game 4 on the back of savvy, street-smart play. The Thunder have to play Game 5 with the same intensity and hunger.