In what may prove to be devistating for the defending Western conference champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder have reported that all-star point guard Russell Westbrook is done for the remainder of the post season. He will need sugery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in the knee. Westbrook's streak of never missing a game since College (and reportedly high school) is now snapped. Not only does the Thunder's chances of getting back to the Finals look slim to none, but also getting out of the West at all, or the second round, or even finishing off the Houston Rockets as they are currently up 2-0.
Westbrook suffered this injury in Game 2 vs Houston with 5:34 to play in the 2nd QTR as Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley lunged into his right knee as he went for a steal. The effect of that hit was clearly seen after the contact as Westbrook showed clear frustration, and hopped to the scorers table in what seemed to be immediate pain. Beverley attempted to make peace, but Westbrook was having none of it.
So what does this mean for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and their chances this post season? It means they lose out on a guy who was averaging 24 ppg, 7 ast, 6 rebs, & 3 steals early in the playoffs. It means they lose a guy who is virtually unguardable vs any other point guard in the league. It means they lose a guy who despite criticism for his playing style learned to pass the ball better, learned to fill in his role better and in essence became a better player for that. And finally it means they lose a guy who could pick up the slack scoring wise if Kevin Durant were to struggle.
With all that said the title hopes for OKC are looking close to non-existent with other heavy Western conference contenders such as the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, and even the Denver Nuggets making their presences known. It's hard to sit here, and think that Kevin Durant the man who said himself "I'm tired of being second" in a Sports Illustrated interview can carry this team to the mountain top by himself. While seeing as how the man he is always second to as of late, very well may be standing in his way and could not do it on his own as well in Lebron James.
James Harden is gone, his once highly appreciated combo guard style of play calls Houston home now. He's a full fledged scorer now, and will most likely turn it up with Westbrook being gone. OKC traded Eric Maynor who has showed in the past he could be a pretty dependable player at the point guard position for the Thunder. Tough luck for Russell Westbrook who has been having an all-star career, tough luck for Kevin Durant who's road to finally being number 1 is looking even more difficult, and tough luck to the city of Oklahoma who express some of the more respected fan support we have seen in years.
Now with Westbrook joining the infamous club of injured all-star guards such as Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, & Rajon Rondo his team also could be joining another club, The one for teams who struggle heavily without that impactful guard.
The now Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder will visit the Houston Rockets Saturday, April 27th, at 9:30pm ET for Game 3 of their 1st round series. Broadcasted on ESPN.