Report: Westbrook to miss the start of first round of playoffs

Houston Rockets' Russell Westbrook reacts after being fouled during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Houston. The Clippers won 120-105. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Houston Rockets will be at less than full-strength to start the NBA playoffs next week.  Star guard Russell Westbook is expected to miss some of the opening round, according to reports.

The Houston Chronicle reported Thursday that Westbrook will miss the start of the first round of the playoffs due to a strained right quad muscle. The team has neither confirmed nor denied that Russell may not be available for some of the first round, which will be against his old squad, the Oklahoma Thunder.

But Wednesday the Rockets did say that Westbrook underwent an MRI for a strained right quad injury and that he would not be available for Friday night’s seeding-game finale against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Rockets and Thunder are set to start their seven-game series on Tuesday in the Orlando bubble.

“We hope we will re-evaluate in a couple of days,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said Wednesday. “We will see how he responds. But we all hope that, you know, we’re just seeing next week. I don’t know right now.”

Westbrook, who reported late to the bubble at Disney World because he tested positive for CVID-19, is critical to the Rockets playoff success. In his first season since coming over in a blockbuster trade last summer, Westbrook has combined with James Harden to form the most dynamic and explosive backcourt in the NBA this season.

Westbrook is averaging 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists for the Rockets this season.