Seeing Thunder's Russell Westbrook go down with a knee injury in last year's postseason all but deflated the chances the Thunder had at capturing an NBA title. Without Westbrook's contributions, Kevin Durant shouldered the load but in the end, it proved to be futile.
However, Westbrook's knee is healed and he should be coming back to the court but the question is now -- when?
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti shared the following about Westbrook’s return.
Via NBA Injury News:
“We expect him to take part in parts of camp and work his way through different parts until he's ultimately cleared for unrestricted activity,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. “But it's all going to be contingent upon how his body reacts to the additional load that he'll be carrying.”
Westbrook shared his thoughts on his recovery.
“I tried taking it one day at a time and not (worry about) the timetable,” Westbrook said. “Just take it one day at a time and try to find a way to strengthen myself and make sure I'm ready to go when it's time.”
Great news for Oklahoma City. Bad news for the rest of the West teams including the San Antonio Spurs.
Just like last year, maintaining the health of Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili is critical, with a great focus on Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. With Parker feeling wore out from playing in the EuroBasket tournament, it will make the coaching staff tweak the plan to maintain health in to two separate phases.
The first phase of the season will be requiring Duncan and Ginobili holding down the fort while Parker gets his legs underneath him. Once Parker is back in game shape then he can hold down the fort on the nights when Gregg Popovich is resting Duncan and Ginobili.
However, once Russell is back on the floor for the Thunder, can the Spurs return to the NBA Finals with a fully healthy OKC team chomping at the bit to also return to the Finals?
Westbrook can be a thorn on the Spurs' collective side. Add him and Durant on the floor and you have a potent duo capable of dethroning the West Champs - San Antonio.
So Spurs’ fans looking towards the 2013-2014 season, do you believe ithe Spurs have what it takes to beat the Thunder in a 7-game series with a healthy Westbrook?
Not worried. I think we're seeing the Spurs FO build a roster that is going to cause OKC some serious problems with greater length, athleticism, versatility-and we have guys who play multiple positions and some promising bigs on the roster.
My biggest concern is that TP get rested and healthy and this is reason # 329 why I think the Spurs will pull a trade to get a vet pg who can give legit depth. If, God forbid, TP went down and JOSEPH was running the team? Yeah, even if everyone else was healthy I would have concerns. Therein is the problem. Gotta have a trusted vet JUST in case. Most playoff teams are one injury away from being a contender to an also ran in the playoffs. We are getting unusual depth at the 2-3. Need it at the 1 and 4/5. I think Spurs headed that direction. One more ring (at least) in TD's final two years.
Tony Parker picking up his game makes Westbrook less scary for the Spurs. Our key to beating them going forward is Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi versus Durant is our new Bowen versus Kobe. Kawhi is not going to stop Durant, of course, but he can make him work hard to get those points and if he scores anywhere clost to what Durant scores in their matchup, the Spurs have really good chance to win..
I felt we could beat them last year with a healthy Westbrook. Since harden left its been dare I say easier to beat them.
No James Harden=Thunder can't beat the Spurs in 7 game series
^^this proclamation only valid if Spurs core is healthy and firing like 2013 post season
We lost to the Thunder because of James Harden. Every time we tried to focus the defense around stopping Durant or cutting off Westbrook from driving to the basket, there would be James Harden ready to take a 3, break down the defense, or dish a great assist. Losing Harden was a huge blow to the Thunder. One which I don't think they will ever fully recover from until they get another 3rd guy who can help get offensive load off of Durant and Westbrook. The Thunder are simply not the same team without Harden and I think they are quite beatable. I think we should look more towards the Warriors as our greatest threat in the West this year. The Iggy pickup was huge.
Last time I checked, a pair doesn't beat three of a kind. Just like every year, I like the Spurs chances to come out on top and take the Whole Enchilada
At this point, The Thunder are still a force to be reckoned with; however, vis a vis with a Spurs team at full strength, there is not question that they are out gunned.
yes I think Spurs can beat the Thunder. while they have Durant and Westbrook, I personally think they got a little weaker during offseason, specifically with Kevin Martin (which who they got after trading Harden) going to the T-Wolves and Thunder get nothing in return. Ibaka may be their third option but didn't seem to be that much of an impact last season. and I'm not so sure about their SG position, hence Durant's wishes of Belinelli joining Thunder (glad that didn't happen).
this would be another great face-off between these two teams, though I think this time I believe the Spurs can win a series against Thunder.
@CraigThomas I agree. It's no wonder Durant vouched HARD for Marco Belinelli to come to OKC. He thought Belinelli could bring something valuable to them. OKC lost harden, then lost Martin, and have received nothing even remotely close to those guys in return. They will be relying heavily on Reggie Jackson to make plays, but I HIGHLY doubt Jackson will have any impact. OKC's bench is so much worse off than barely two years ago, this will work in our favor a lot. Harden was the reason we didn't make it to the Finals in 2012. James Harden being a no show in the 2012 Finals was a HUGE reason they got spanked by Miami in 5 games. I really like our chances against OKC this year.
@RockheadTG 2012 was a sour defeat. Some role player always stepped it up in OKC while the Spurs got NOTHING from their bench. We are deeper now, they are less deep.
But lets pray defensive greats Ibaka doesn't and Sefolosha stays out of it on the offensive end.