Dwight Howard making “slow but steady” progress in knee rehab

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The Rockets’ title hopes hinge fully on Dwight Howard’s knees. If he’s healthy after undergoing a knee procedure last month, then between him and MVP candidate James Harden, they might have enough talent to compete in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, it seems like Howard might not be back for a while.

From the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen:

With Friday’s game marking four weeks since Dwight Howard went out with right knee edema, Howard has been running on a weight-controlled treadmill (along with the weight lifting and swimming he has been doing all month), but is not yet scheduled to increase his rehabilitation to on-court drills.

Howard has been able to steadily increase the percentage of his body weight on the treadmill without any setbacks, according to a person with knowledge of the process.

Howard has an MRI scheduled for several days next week, starting on Wednesday, with his and his doctor’s schedule to determine when he will undergo the examination that could clear him for the next step in his rehab. Wednesday would mark four weeks since his bone marrow aspirate injection.

Since Howard underwent the procedure, the Rockets have gone 10-4 and currently sit at third place in the Western Conference with a 40-18 record. But if the season ended today, they’d face the Clippers in the first round, and the prospect of stopping Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan without Howard is a scary one. With so many injuries, the Western Conference playoffs could come down to which team has its most important players healthy, and the Rockets need Howard back if they want to be a serious threat.