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Russell Westbrook’s minute limit might continue into playoffs

Mar 24, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT

Russell Westbrook, Spencer Hawes

The Thunder are playing Russell Westbrook less than ever. They’re even sitting him in some back-to-backs.

It’s all designed to maximize his availability for the playoffs.

Oklahoma City is a legitimate championship contender. There’s no sense risking Westbrook’s health until it matters most.

But given how serious every hit to the knee Westbrook absorbs seems, maybe the Thunder must still remain cautious with Westbrook once the postseason begins.

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:

The Thunder are better when Westbrook plays (offensive rating: 110.5/defensive rating: 102.4/net rating: +8.1) than when he doesn’t (106.0/99.3/+6.7). That’s boosted by playing more than 85 percent of his minutes with Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, but those players have chemistry together. They should share the court often.

Don’t buy into the talk that Westbrook hurts the Thunder by taking the ball from Durant, either. Westbrook’s aggressiveness definitely opens space for Durant. There are rocky points when they play together, but dealing with those beats the alternative of not having two top-10 players.

Reggie Jackson has been a solid fill-in, but he’s not as good as Westbrook. The more minutes the Thunder have Westbrook available in the playoffs, the better off they’ll be.

  1. Zammael - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:31 AM

    Is Russell Westbrook even wearing a knee brace?

    If not that might help prevent potential injuries in the future.
    I remember in the playoffs last season Tim Duncan had a close call when some player fell back into his knee and he fell down, grabbing his knee. Thankfully he was wearing the knee brace and it prevented damage.

  2. justaride88 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:34 AM

    Nice picture. Wes has overdribbled the ball, ignored the wide open KD, gotten himself stuck in traffic, has jumped to take a shot, but than has changed hes thoughts in mid air and now he will trow the ball away.

    Best point guard in basketball.

  3. usavebob - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    Man, there are a lot of Westbrook detractors.He is not perfect; his enthusiasm and confidence sometimes leads to bad plays. He is the biggest cheerleader on the team, has absorbed some serious adversity, came back quicker and with more aggressiveness than anyone else we’ve seen. He’s a freak athlete who would be an MVP contender if he and Durant weren’t on the same team.

    Fortunately, he has thick skin, too!

    • heat256 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:13 PM

      Not thick knees tho. Too soon?

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