Injury assessment: How much time will Rockets’ Russell Westbrook miss?

Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

We reached out to a doctor of physical therapy to give his analysis Russell Westbrook’s injury and when we can expect him back for the Houston Rockets.

To say the Houston Rockets have had bad luck when it comes to injuries at playoff time would be an understatement. Despite Coach Mike D’Antoni cautiously resting his stars as the seeding games wind down, the team announced Wednesday that Russell Westbrook had suffered a strained quad in his right leg.

With the news, Westbrook was officially ruled out of Friday’s final regular season game against the Philadelphia 76ers, and his injury will be re-evaluated before the playoffs. Without a set timetable for his return, I turned to Dr. Rajpal Brar, a doctor of physical therapy, to get his thoughts on what the Rockets can expect in regards to Westbrook’s injury.

We’ve previously covered some of Brar’s work on this site when he examined the science behind James Harden‘s remarkable braking ability on the court.

“It depends on the specific quadriceps muscle,” said Dr. Brar. “If it’s the most common one, the rectus femoris, and it’s a mild grade 1 tear, he could miss one to two weeks.”

While the good news is that the most common type of strain shouldn’t see Westbrook missing too much time, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect until further evaluating is done. Still, Dr. Brar noted the danger of a soft tissue injury like that of Westbrook.

“Soft tissue injuries can be sensitive and prone to reinjury because of how much load the muscles take — especially for a player like Russ, who uses extremely explosive movements,” said Dr. Brar.

During the broadcast of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, former Houston Rocket and current color analyst Matt Bullard shared a similar sentiment about quad strains. “I’ve had it before. You can’t rush your way back from them. You have to wait for those to heal,” said Bullard.

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With the playoffs set to begin Monday, there’s a decent chance that Coach Mike D’Antoni may have to sit Westbrook for some postseason time to let his quadriceps muscle heal fully. Given Westbrook’s determination and competitive nature, however, I wouldn’t expect him to sit out without a fight.