Westbrook could enter Friday’s game at Toronto having played just one game in seven days. It explains these peculiar nights off. They’re nothing more than the Thunder managing the schedule and hoping rest ultimately helps Westbrook sustain peak performance come playoff time and throughout his career.
“Rest is always good, whether you’re hurt or not,” Westbrook said. “But at this time, with me still recovering and still trying to get back, it was good for me to rest and get three days I had off and be able to come back and help my team win the next one.”
The question going forward is how will the Thunder perform in the games without Westbrook?
Sunday’s showing was a stunning contrast between the boundless energy Westbrook brings the Thunder whenever he’s in the lineup and the moments of meh when he is not.
Against the Mavs, the Thunder’s offense was out of sync and its defense was a mess. In the end, Dallas snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Thunder.
Brooks doesn’t expect his team to replicate Westbrook’s energy while he’s out. Few players, if any, are as relentless.
“I don’t think you can duplicate what Russell brings,” Brooks said. “But as a group, we can still continue to build on what we do…We’ve had a fair number of games without Russell that we’ve played good basketball. So I’m not going to get down on one bad performance without him…We still can play good basketball.”