The landscape of the Western Conference playoffs changed on Friday afternoon when word came out about Russell Westbrook’s injury.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have announced that Westbrook will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
There is no timetable for his return but there is a good chance that the point guard will miss the remainder of the postseason. When asked if Westbrook could return in the 2013 playoffs, a source told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, “maybe.”
The injury occurred in the second quarter of the Thunder’s Game Two matchup with the Houston Rockets. Houston’s Patrick Beverley collided with Westbrook’s knee as he attempted to make a steal. Westbrook was visibly upset after the play, looking for a foul call.
Despite getting hurt, Westbrook remained in the game, playing 37 minutes. Oklahoma City defeated Houston and took a 2-0 first-round series lead.
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It may not seem likely that Westbrook will be ready to play again this season, but there are recent examples of players coming back, quickly, from the same surgery. Metta World Peace was out for just two weeks this season after getting surgery to repair his torn meniscus. The Los Angeles Lakers forward was expected to miss six weeks.
Before the injury, Westbrook had been the most durable player in the NBA. His 394 consecutive regular season games played is the longest current streak in the league.
Entering the postseason, the Thunder were overwhelming favorites to reach the NBA Finals and, possibly, challenge the Miami Heat for a second straight year. The Thunder still boast perhaps the best scorer in the NBA, as Kevin Durant averaged 28.1 points per game in the regular season.
Westbrook registered 23.2 points, 7.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game in the regular season. His injury could open the door for a team like the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets or Los Angeles Clippers to reach the Finals.