How will the absence of OKC point guard effect the playoff picture?
As the Oklahoma City Thunder formulate a plot to reach the NBA Finals without their star point guard Russell Westbrook, we take a look at what it means for the rest of the Western Conference.
The disappointing news was delivered on Friday, with the 24-year-old set to undergo surgery following a meniscus tear in his right knee.
It ends a remarkable run for Westbrook, who had featured in all 439 games, including the playoffs, for the Thunder since he entered the league.
Along with Kevin Durant, they have formed a devastating pairing for Oklahoma City throughout the regular season, and appeared to be on track to extend that form through the post season.
Currently holding a 2-0 series lead over the Houston Rockets ahead of Game 3, they will require a bigger effort from Durant who will now have to assume control of the offensive if they are to progress.
Undoubtedly, Durant is capable of doing just that, but taking away Westbrook’s averages of 24 points and seven assists from the first two playoff games, it will take a huge effort from those likely to step in.
While they will remain confident of being able to finish the job against the Rockets, things may get a little trickier for coach Scott Brooks thereafter.
A semi-final meeting with either the Memphis Grizzlies or Los Angeles Clippers awaits them, with the former possessing arguably the best defence in the league and would ultimately provide a stern test for Durant and the Thunder, should Westbrook not make a miraculous recovery for the latter stages.
While no individual or team will be pleased to see any player go down injured in the NBA, the biggest benefactors from the loss could arguably be the San Antonio Spurs.
Currently coasting through their first round series against the Los Angeles Lakers, leading 3-0, the Spurs are healthy at just the right time.
Having suffered from injuries in the final stretch of the season, the likes of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are back on the court and more importantly in form.
The odds for the Thunder to set up a repeat clash with the Miami Heat in the Finals have plummeted following the news regarding Westbrook, however that may be looking too far ahead as the Spurs are now perhaps the team to beat in the West.