While relatively trivial when compared to the message sent after Wednesday’s NBA playoff strikes within the Orlando bubble led to at least two days of action being postponed, some teams will benefit from extra time off the pitch more than others.
The Los Angeles Lakers would have benefited either way after Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard left the bubble to receive further exams on his injured right knee. Both Toronto and Boston will certainly take the rest before the Eastern Conference semifinal series begins. Perhaps Utah will take advantage of a couple more days to see if the momentum gained by Denver by winning its game 5 will wear off now that the pace of basketball playing every other day has been cut off to protest the Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooting by Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, from the local police, among other injustices and problems.
But the team that will benefit most from this short respite in basketball is easily the Houston Rockets. Locked in a first-round streak against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Match 5 is expected to take place on Saturday, according to the sports-nation/rockets/article/Rockets-Thunder-series-to-resume-Saturday-15520801.php”>Houston Chronicle. OKC fought hard to stay in this series, but the Rockets played without All-Star Russell Westbrook, who missed the first four games with a tight groin.
Westbrook reportedly trained with the team on Thursday and Houston is expected to train again on Friday, according to the Chronicle. The Rockets are 8th among playoff teams so far in points per game and 6th in defense of goals, but only 12th in the percentage of field goals at 44.1% and 11th in 3 points% at 35.6.
Swapped from Oklahoma City to Houston last summer for Chris Paul and draft picks, Westbrook isn’t the best straight shooter around. But with Thunder rookie Lu Dort doing a good job overall defending against James Harden, causing a filming slump in the early series, having Westbrook there to divert attention and pressure from his Houston teammates will be the welcome, even if Russ isn’t 100% yet.
Westbrook was listed as questionable for Wednesday’s Match 5 which of course hasn’t happened yet. A couple more days from a grueling, hard-fought streak may be just enough fuel to propel the Rockets into what should be a fascinating second-round streak against the Lakers.