When the Thunder first announced Russell Westbrook’s post All-Star break return, it came with two caveats.
Westbrook would remain on a minutes restriction and he would likely rest in back-to-back situations.
OKC has stuck to its first limitation, playing Westbrook no more than 31 minutes in any of the past 10 games. Now it’s sounds as if they’ll stick to the second.
Of late, the Thunder has had a relatively cushy schedule, not playing a back-to-back since the start of February. But in the season’s final month, OKC will play six.
And according to Scott Brooks, Westbrook will rest in some, if not all, of those.
“There’s going to be some back-to-backs he’s not going to play,” Brooks said. “We definitely have a plan in place.”
However, Brooks refused to reveal specifics on which games Westbrook would rest.
When asked if he’d play against the Mavericks on Sunday and rest against the Bulls on Monday, Brooks said “we’ll let you know tomorrow”.
“His conditioning is great,” Brooks added. “We just want to get some time, while we still can, where he can rest in between games.”
Here are the Thunder’s remaining back-to-backs:
Mar. 16-17: vs Dallas / at Chicago
Mar. 20-21: at Cleveland / at Toronto
Mar. 24-25: vs Denver / at Dallas
Apr. 3-4: vs San Antonio / at Houston
Apr. 8-9: at Sacramento / at Clippers
Apr. 13-14: at Indiana / at New Orleans
ROBERSON REMAINS AS STARTER
For the second straight game, Scott Brooks will start rookie Andre Roberson at the shooting guard spot.
Against the Lakers on Thursday, Roberson played well in his 24 minutes, helping force Jodie Meeks into a bad shooting night and chipping in on the offensive end.
But Brooks wouldn’t commit to Roberson as a permanent starter in the absence of Thabo Sefolosha.
“We’ll make decisions as the season goes along,” Brooks said. “But I thought he did a good job last game.”
The Thunder is 5-0 with Roberson in the starting lineup this season.
ROBERSON ON ELLIS AND ROSE
Against the Mavericks, Roberson will be tasked with containing Monta Ellis, the Mavericks’ lightning quick guard who is averaging 18.8 points and 5.8 assists this season.
“Strong, right-hand driver,” Roberson said of Ellis. “Plays aggressive, shoots the mid-range well. It’s going to be a hard-fought game.”
But these matchups are nothing new to Roberson. In his spot starts this season, Roberson has been thrown on the best opposing perimeter player.
He started on Kyle Korver in Atlanta and Kobe Bryant when the Lakers visited OKC in December. But Roberson’s toughest guard, according to him, actually came in the preseason, when he was locked up with a healthy Derrick Rose.
“He’s quick, man,” Roberson said. “That was pretty tough.”
STAT OF THE DAY
Per Elias, the Thunder is the only team this season to have drafted all five players in its starting lineup.