Russell Westbrook practices, expected to return Saturday in Game 5


In the past two games, both Houston losses, the Rockets are -25 when James Harden is on the bench. They lack the secondary scoring punch needed when Harden gets a rest.

Enter Russell Westbrook.

Out for the first four games of this series with a quad injury, Westbrook went through a five-on-five scrimmage Friday and, if there are no setbacks, he is expected to return Saturday, coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters. Via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Westbrook did make clear he would not have been back and would not have been playing if the players/players union had not reached a deal with the league for more action on social justice issues.

The Rockets took the first two games of this series and Harden has been phenominal, averaging 32 points a game. Houston also has continued to play solid defense in the bubble. The Thunder have come back the last two thanks to Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dominating the guard play — Houston is counting on the return of Westbrook to change that.

Westbrook should attack more in transition and try to get the Rockets a few easy buckets. Also, he is going to attack the rim and try to get points in the paint/draw fouls. He’s not taking stepback threes, he’s driving and sometimes kicking. How the Thunder handle that new dynamic — and if they can force him to be inefficient — will decide a lot bout this series.

Game 5 Saturday is going to be very interesting.