Russell Westbrook is back for Game 5, but with minutes restriction

Russell Westbrook is back
Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Russell Westbrook is back.

Maybe not as much as coach Mike D’Antoni would like, but he’s back.

After missing time with a quad injury, Westbrook is officially listed as available for Saturday’s critical Game 5 between Houston and Oklahoma City in a series tied 2-2. He will play for the first time in these playoffs, but D’Antoni noted before there likely would be a minutes restriction.

Houston needs Westbrook back on the court — he brings an attacking energy every game that the Rockets have lacked.

After taking the first two games of the series, the Rockets have stalled out and lost the last two — and been -25 in those games when James Harden is off the court. Westbrook can help balance out the Thunder getting strong play from its backcourt of Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Westbrook will push the ball in transition and attack the rim, trying to get the Rockets a few easy buckets. He also will draw fouls. However, how he fits in with an improved Rockets defense in the bubble remains a question.

Westbrook changes the dynamic in this 2-2 series, whether that’s enough to get the Rockets a win is the question.