OKC Thunder: Dort and Westbrook injuries key factor in series

Russell Westbrook and Luguentz Dort injuries will factor large in first round OKC Thunder - Rockets series .(Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook and Luguentz Dort injuries will factor large in first round OKC Thunder - Rockets series .(Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

Two injuries could play a big factor in the OKC Thunder – Houston Rockets series.

With the rapid ascent of Luguentz Dort as a lockdown defender, the OKC Thunder seemed poised to make some noise in the playoffs. That may still be the case but at least initially, it seems likely OKC will need to get their wins without the Canadian’s services.

The bad news was that Dort got hurt at all, the good news is it wasn’t worse than it initially appeared. The team advised it is a knee sprain.

At the time Dort went to the ground certain replays seemed to imply he had pulled up prior to banging knees with Jae Crowder. That led to worries (from yours truly) he might have torn something. Thankfully, that’s not the case.

In a search to determine the difference between a sprain and a strain, a website by doctor Michael Gleiber gave insight. The doctor explains the difference being a sprain involves ligaments whereas strains affect tendons.

"A sprain occurs when a ligament in the knee is overstretched. Ligaments are fibrous bands of connective tissue that join the bones together. In the case of a severe injury, the ligament may tear. Knee sprains are caused by trauma to the knee, whether direct or indirect, that causes the ligament to stretch too far.Strains differ from sprains in that a tendon is injured, rather than a ligament. Tendons are the fibrous cords of tissue that attach your muscles to your bones."

That is important because the ACL is a ligament. Therefore the time the Thunder spends to rehab Dort and get him back on the floor shouldn’t be rushed. Sure, his defense would be a great bonus but not at the cost of losing him long term because he returned too quickly.

Two injuries that will factor large in OKC Thunder – Rockets series

We saw twice last season when Kevin Durant returned too early and potentially Klay Thompson too. Would either have suffered the Achilles tendon rupture or ACL tear if they’d taken longer to rehab and heal? We’ll never know the answer to that question but the OKC Thunder does have history to draw from. They witnessed a serious injury to Andre Roberson almost derail his career.

Now, I’m not a doctor and I have no inside information on how severe the sprain was. The Thunder don’t push their players to return so that bodes well for the youngster getting good advice in that regard.

As per Dr. Gleiber, the typical treatment is the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). he also notes additional physical therapy can expedite the healing process which clearly Dort will receive.

What we can glean from this information is Dort will miss time to get the inflammation down and for the pain to subside. Once it does the club will look at his mobility and when all those factors are in a positive situation he’ll be able to return.

Some searches revealed sprains are graded (grade one or grade two for example) and can take weeks or months to heal. Again, I’m not a medical professional, I bring this up because there is the real possibility Dort won’t be available for the first-round series.

Westbrook will miss start of series:

As for the opponent news that Russell Westbrook will miss a “few” games due to a strained right quad. Rockets beat reporter Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle provided the update.

"Though the Rockets could only put a timetable on when they will next evaluate Russell Westbrook’s strained quadriceps muscle, the expectation is that he will be out for the first few games of next week’s playoff series and possibly longer, a person with knowledge of the team’s thinking said on Thursday."

After an MRI confirmed the injury and the team gave that report it became a talking point on Inside the NBA Thursday night. Ernie Johnson, Shaq, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley were trying to decipher precisely what “a few” games meant. Ernie seemed to think a couple meant two whereas ‘a few’ is three or more.

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Again, in a search of a quadriceps strain, all articles I read cover the gamut of 72 hours off up to as much as six weeks. The severity of the strain affects how long the player needs to rest, and can range between mild and severe.

Thunder Nation are all too familiar with Westbrook’s heart and if he can go you know he’ll try.  The fact the Rockets have jumped out ahead of the series to say he’ll miss games seems to indicate the quad injury could be more on the serious side of severity, especially if they are already stating they want to keep him out a few games.

Of course, everyone wants to see Westbrook play and for fans here it’s almost a double-edged sword because even if we win, the Brodie loses. Of course, that’s the preference but no fan of Russ’ wants to see him lose – – but when he’s playing OKC having the Thunder win is the greater preference.

If Westbrook and Dort can’t go for many games or even the entirety of the series it’s a loss for both clubs but a far greater loss for the Rockets. The OKC Thunder fanbase was thrilled with Andre Roberson finally got to return to the hardwood. His presence looms even larger with Dort’s injury.

We’ve constantly heard Terrance Ferguson is a team guy. This season he’s fallen off with personal issues on the side but hopefully, he’ll be ready and willing to step up in Dort’s absence. The other very real possibility is we’ll see much more of Hamidou Diallo given his defensive ability.

The presence of all three will factor whether Westbrook plays or not because the Rockets still boast the NBA’s top scorer, James Harden.

Sending our prayers to both Russell Westbrook and Luguentz Dort and wishing them a quick and safe return to the hardwood.

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