While the Rockets did manage to tie up their series with the San Antonio Spurs 2-2 last night with a big win at the Toyota Center, the victory did not come without a heavy cost.
Nene will miss the remainder of the year with a tear in his thigh muscle.
The big man went down early in the game after colliding with Jonathon Simmons, playing just 4 minutes, and was immediately taken off the court and sent to a hospital for testing. The incident seemed innocent enough until the Brazilian big man immediately checked himself out of the game, wincing in pain before heading down the tunnel into the locker room.
Now the Rockets’ worst fears about their veteran center, who’s been mostly healthy all year up until this point. He’s looked better than he has in years, and the Rockets’ careful management of his minutes, including holding him out of back-to-backs, has kept him as a key cog in the playoffs. He almost single-handedly won Game 4 against the Thunder with 28 points and 10 rebounds on perfect shooting from the floor.
The Spurs are big inside, and Nene was providing a steady presence all postseason. The Rockets made do with Clint Capela and Ryan Anderson in last night’s win, but you can bet Gregg Popovich will be sure to attack the new weakness in the Houston front court with a day to prepare.