Well, this series took a turn for the worse.
We found out yesterday that Russell Westbrook would be having surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus from a collision with Patrick Beverley in Game 2. We find out today that Westbrook is out for the rest of the playoffs.
Now we get to see a Thunder team that we have literally never seen before: one without Russell Westbrook.
This changes so much in this series basically because we don’t really know what to expect from the Thunder.
Houston committed to small ball in Game 2 and it gave the Thunder some trouble and resulted in a much closer game. That’s surely going to be the strategy going forward for the Rockets while we’re not even sure what the Thunder will do to combat it.
Kevin Durant will be called upon to do it all from now on in the playoffs. This is something he has basically been preparing for with his LeBron James imitation this season. Expect KD to play 44 minutes per night and probably the entire second half of every game the rest of the playoffs.
Defenses should be more geared to Durant than ever before now which will mean Durant’s willingness to pass will be on full display. The Thunder can only hope that their shooters will be open and they will be ready to knock down shots.
Reggie Jackson will start at point guard in place of Westbrook. He should see a big increase in minutes along with Derek Fisher and Kevin Martin.
The Thunder desperately need Martin and Serge Ibaka to step up as scorers. Both haven’t exactly been consistent at that this year but have shown the potential to do so at times.
Tonight will be about winning it for Westbrook. The Thunder are worse off for the rest of the playoffs without him but tonight should be an emotional game for a Thunder team that will play their hearts out to win it for Russ.
You expect someone will have to be inserted into the rotation to replace Russ and that might be Ronnie Brewer, who should fit in well with this series as a defender against Houston’s small lineups.
We will see how Scott Brooks reacts. The game will tip at 8:30 p.m. CST and air nationally on ESPN.