The Oklahoma City Thunder's championship hopes were dealt a potentially devastating blow on Friday.
Russell Westbrook, a three-time All-Star who had played in all 439 Oklahoma City games since the franchise nabbed him with the fourth pick of the 2008 NBA draft, suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee during Game 2 on Wednesday night.
He collided with Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley during the second quarter, as Beverley attempted a steal while Westbrook eased up to call a timeout.
The injury will require surgery and sideline the prolific point guard indefinitely (via NBA.com).
Metta World Peace on Russell Westbrook: "He should call me ... I got the remedies ... Call me, I'll get you back in 10 days"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 27, 2013
World Peace suffered a similar injury earlier this season, and despite a reported six-week timetable, returned to action just 12 days after his surgery (via Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com).
Anything that puts Westbrook back on the floor during this postseason would be music to Oklahoma City's ears. The dynamic guard has torched the Rockets for 24.0 points, 7.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals as the Thunder have built a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven series.
Can the Thunder make a Finals run without Westbrook?
With Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin leading the charge, the Thunder still have ample firepower to dispose of the young, inexperienced Rockets.
But a looming matchup with either the Memphis Grizzlies or Los Angeles Clippers (L.A. has a 2-1 lead in that series) could be sending a jolt of urgency into this recovery process. Second-year guard Reggie Jackson has just two playoff appearances on his resume, and veteran Derek Fisher has looked every bit of his 38 years of age.
Durant, winner of three of the last four scoring titles, packs a devastating offensive punch. But he won't be able to shoulder all of the heavy lifting as the competition stiffens.