The Houston Rockets have been given a huge boost ahead of their crucial game five encounter. Russell Westbrook will make his playoff debut for Houston, going up against his former team, the OKC Thunder.
This is terrific news for the Rockets, as they will need their All-Star to defeat a tough, gritty Thunder side. Houston looked dominant in the first two games, but OKC won the next two in nail-biting fashion.
Westbrook will be extremely vital in this series, especially when James Harden is on the bench. His proficiency in finishing around the rim attracts help defense, so he can kick out for open threes. The former UCLA Bruin’s athleticism will also be vital defensively when guarding OKC’s three-guard death lineup.
According to ESPN, Westbrook participated in practice on Thursday and looked “explosive as ever.” If this is the case, the Thunder will have a hard time winning this series, as Russ has been incredible in 2020. Since the first of January, he is averaging nearly 31 points to go alongside 8 rebounds and 7 assists per game. This is with efficiency well clear of 50%, and nearly 2 steals a night. If this is the version of Westbrook we see, it’s hard not to see the Rockets winning this series.
In recent press conferences, Westbrook remained relatively quiet on the status of his health. He did speak in volume about Social Justice issues, in the wake of the recent boycotted NBA playoff games.
“Obviously, basketball is our platform. It’s something that I love and embrace to do, but to me, [fighting for social justice] is the most important reason why we are actually even coming back to play. Because if there wasn’t any agreeance or there was no action moving towards some of the things we talked about as players, and me personally, I wouldn’t be playing.”Russell Westbrook, via ESPN
Westbrook has only appeared in four bubble games so far, and none since August 11th against the San Antonio Spurs.