Russell Westbrook set to return

Russell Westbrook set to returnRussell Westbrook set to return

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The NBA Playoffs are set to resume on Saturday, with the three games that were originally scheduled for Wednesday on the docket. Three Game 5 matchups, with two being elimination games with the Bucks and Lakers holding 3-1 leads in their respective series. But it’s the other Game 5, between the Thunder and Rockets, that boasted the biggest development on Friday.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»19″>The NBA Playoffs are set to resume on Saturday, with the three games that were originally scheduled for Wednesday on the docket. Three Game 5 matchups, with two being elimination games with the Bucks and Lakers holding 3-1 leads in their respective series. But it’s the other Game 5, between the Thunder and Rockets, that boasted the biggest development on Friday. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Russell Westbrook, who hasn’t played in a game since August 11 due to a quadriceps injury, is set to make his return to action. According to an ESPN.com report he looked “as explosive as ever” during a team scrimmage on Thursday, and there were no issues during Friday’s practice either. As a result he’s listed as “available” for Saturday, and while no specifics were given regarding a possible minutes restriction I’m not expecting Westbrook to hit his season average of 35.9 minutes per. And his return to the lineup will impact many players within the Rockets rotation beginning with Danuel House, who would be back on the bench should Westbrook assume his usual starting role.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»20″>Russell Westbrook, who hasn’t played in a game since August 11 due to a quadriceps injury, is set to make his return to action. According to an ESPN.com report he looked “as explosive as ever” during a team scrimmage on Thursday, and there were no issues during Friday’s practice either. As a result he’s listed as “available” for Saturday, and while no specifics were given regarding a possible minutes restriction I’m not expecting Westbrook to hit his season average of 35.9 minutes per. And his return to the lineup will impact many players within the Rockets rotation beginning with Danuel House, who would be back on the bench should Westbrook assume his usual starting role. 

In 52 starts this season House is averaging 10.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.1 3-pointers per game, with shooting splits of 43.2 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from three and 80.6 percent from the foul line. The numbers dip for House when he comes off the bench (11 games), as he’s posted averages of 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 0.7 3-pointers per with splits of 39.7/33.9/83.3. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Eric Gordon will also be impacted, in that his overall field goal percentage without Westbrook during the regular season (38.1 percent) was higher than his percentage when the two were on the floor together (35.5). A positive for Gordon when playing alongside Westbrook was his 3-point average, as he made 1.8 per game compared to 1.4 without Russ. And as one would expect Gordon’s usage dipped considerably when on the floor with his recently injured teammate, falling to 16.8 (26.6 without Westbrook). Gordon should get more spot-up opportunities when on the court with both Westbrook and James Harden, but there won’t be as many chances to attack defenses off the dribble based upon the numbers.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»26″>Eric Gordon will also be impacted, in that his overall field goal percentage without Westbrook during the regular season (38.1 percent) was higher than his percentage when the two were on the floor together (35.5). A positive for Gordon when playing alongside Westbrook was his 3-point average, as he made 1.8 per game compared to 1.4 without Russ. And as one would expect Gordon’s usage dipped considerably when on the floor with his recently injured teammate, falling to 16.8 (26.6 without Westbrook). Gordon should get more spot-up opportunities when on the court with both Westbrook and James Harden, but there won’t be as many chances to attack defenses off the dribble based upon the numbers. 

Finally there’s Harden, whose usage fell from 42.0 to 30.6 during the regular season when he shared the floor with Westbrook. In the first four games of this series Harden’s usage is at 33.1, with Gordon (29.4) being the only other regular above 20 percent. Where Westbrook’s return may help Harden is in the fourth quarter, as his presence gives Houston another player who can make things happen off the dribble. Not that Oklahoma City would suddenly leave Harden open in an attempt to keep Westbrook from the basket, but the reuniting of Houston’s best tandem could mean more pick-and-roll action between those two (with Harden as the screener). There was a brief look at this in the seeding games, and I’d expect Mike D’Antoni to go to this at times on Saturday. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="While House would be a better play than Ben McLemore, with his move back to the bench I like Jeff Green even more from a DFS standpoint. His price should be modest, and for the series he boasts an offensive rating of 117.4 with averages of 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.3 3-pointers per game. Gordon likely transitions into move of a points and threes guy, which could have some value depending upon his price.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»28″>While House would be a better play than Ben McLemore, with his move back to the bench I like Jeff Green even more from a DFS standpoint. His price should be modest, and for the series he boasts an offensive rating of 117.4 with averages of 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.3 3-pointers per game. Gordon likely transitions into move of a points and threes guy, which could have some value depending upon his price. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Editor’s Note:&nbsp;Whether you want to win a 50/50 or take down a GPP, use our DFS Optimizer, customizable projections and more to create the smartest lineups.&nbsp;Subscribe to all four major sports for as low as $7.99/month!» data-reactid=»29″>Editor’s Note: Whether you want to win a 50/50 or take down a GPP, use our DFS Optimizer, customizable projections and more to create the smartest lineups. Subscribe to all four major sports for as low as $7.99/month!

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Bucks looking to close out Magic&nbsp;» data-reactid=»30″>Bucks looking to close out Magic 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Two days after members of the Celtics and Raptors released their frustrations in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, it was Milwaukee that made the first definitive move. The Bucks’ decision to forfeit Game 5 (which Orlando did not accept) brought the playoffs to a halt and opened the door for some much-needed conversations between the team and public officials in Wisconsin. Three days later they’ll look to close out a depleted Magic roster that will be without both Aaron Gordon (hamstring) and Michael Carter-Williams (knee).&nbsp;» data-reactid=»31″>Two days after members of the Celtics and Raptors released their frustrations in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, it was Milwaukee that made the first definitive move. The Bucks’ decision to forfeit Game 5 (which Orlando did not accept) brought the playoffs to a halt and opened the door for some much-needed conversations between the team and public officials in Wisconsin. Three days later they’ll look to close out a depleted Magic roster that will be without both Aaron Gordon (hamstring) and Michael Carter-Williams (knee). 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="With Gordon out expect another big game from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who three 30/10 games to his credit in this series. The one game in which Giannis didn’t hit those numbers was Game 2, and all he did was go for 28 points, 20 rebounds and five assists. Good luck, Gary Clark.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»32″>With Gordon out expect another big game from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who three 30/10 games to his credit in this series. The one game in which Giannis didn’t hit those numbers was Game 2, and all he did was go for 28 points, 20 rebounds and five assists. Good luck, Gary Clark

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="What Milwaukee really needs is to see Khris Middleton find his stroke. While he is certainly capable of contributing in other areas, things get even easier offensively for Giannis when his sidekick is at his best. For the series Middleton is shooting 33.9 percent from the field while averaging 13.5 points per game. That may not be a big deal in this series given Orlando’s injuries, but it will be in the second round where the Miami Heat await. As for Orlando in Game 5, Nikola Vucevic is the only sure thing at this point. Markelle Fultz has struggled with his shot but is still a better choice than D.J. Augustin, who leads the second unit.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»37″>What Milwaukee really needs is to see Khris Middleton find his stroke. While he is certainly capable of contributing in other areas, things get even easier offensively for Giannis when his sidekick is at his best. For the series Middleton is shooting 33.9 percent from the field while averaging 13.5 points per game. That may not be a big deal in this series given Orlando’s injuries, but it will be in the second round where the Miami Heat await. As for Orlando in Game 5, Nikola Vucevic is the only sure thing at this point. Markelle Fultz has struggled with his shot but is still a better choice than D.J. Augustin, who leads the second unit. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Will Rajon Rondo make his bubble debut?&nbsp;» data-reactid=»38″>Will Rajon Rondo make his bubble debut? 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Lakers will also be up against a depleted opponent Saturday, as Portland will be without Damian Lillard (knee). That means big usage for C.J. McCollum, more shots for Carmelo Anthony, and likely a place in the starting lineup for Gary Trent Jr. Trent has taken the next step in his game down in the bubble, and with an eye towards next season he would be worth taking a late-round flier on in deeper leagues. But Lillard’s absence leaves Portland without its leader, and that’s a big problem in this matchup. LeBron James (groin), Anthony Davis (back) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (knee) are all listed as probable, so the expectation is that they’ll be fine to take on their usual workloads.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»39″>The Lakers will also be up against a depleted opponent Saturday, as Portland will be without Damian Lillard (knee). That means big usage for C.J. McCollum, more shots for Carmelo Anthony, and likely a place in the starting lineup for Gary Trent Jr. Trent has taken the next step in his game down in the bubble, and with an eye towards next season he would be worth taking a late-round flier on in deeper leagues. But Lillard’s absence leaves Portland without its leader, and that’s a big problem in this matchup. LeBron James (groin), Anthony Davis (back) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (knee) are all listed as probable, so the expectation is that they’ll be fine to take on their usual workloads. 

As for Rondo, he’s listed as doubtful so it doesn’t appear likely that he will make his bubble debut Saturday night. A win would get the Lakers (at minimum) a couple more days of rest more than their second round opponent, as the Rockets/Thunder series will go at least six games. That could give Rondo, who recovered from a broken thumb only to be sidelined due to back spasms, the time he needs to not only return but to be effective defensively.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Whether its Houston’s Harden/Westbrook tandem (and the small rotation overall) or Oklahoma City’s triumvirate of Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder, the Lakers are going to need Rondo even if he isn’t much of a threat as a scorer.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»41″>Whether its Houston’s Harden/Westbrook tandem (and the small rotation overall) or Oklahoma City’s triumvirate of Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder, the Lakers are going to need Rondo even if he isn’t much of a threat as a scorer. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Kristaps Porzingis is done for the season&nbsp;» data-reactid=»42″>Kristaps Porzingis is done for the season 

Dallas made it official on Friday that the Unicorn would not play again this season due to a knee injury, and in the process finally revealed the full extent of the issue. Originally reported to be a sore knee, Porzingis was actually dealing with a torn lateral meniscus that he suffered during Game 1. That means he played Games 2 and 3 on the injury before the pain became too much to bear.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="As has been the case in each of the games that Porzingis missed, Luka Doncic‘s usage stands to be even higher than it already is, and supplementary scorers such as Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Seth Curry are of even greater importance to the Dallas rotation. Game 6 of the Mavericks’ series with the Clippers (which LA leads, 3-2) is scheduled for Sunday.&nbsp;&nbsp;» data-reactid=»44″>As has been the case in each of the games that Porzingis missed, Luka Doncic‘s usage stands to be even higher than it already is, and supplementary scorers such as Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Seth Curry are of even greater importance to the Dallas rotation. Game 6 of the Mavericks’ series with the Clippers (which LA leads, 3-2) is scheduled for Sunday.