There will be a bunch of story-lines to look forward to as the OKC Thunder take on the Houston Rockets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs!
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OKC Thunder vs Houston Rockets
There’s no doubt that the Thunder have been one of the more surprising teams of the season so far. After trading away their two best players in Russel Westbrook and Paul George in the off-season they racked up 44 wins to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference and lock in a date with the Rockets in the first round.
It’s been a beautiful mix of young and old for the Thunder, with veterans in Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari and meshing well with younger stars in the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams.
Key Player: Steven Adams
Has to be massive on the offensive end to force the Rockets out of their small ball line-up. Adams is capable of stepping out to defend the likes of PJ Tucker at times, but if he isn’t dominating the smaller men down low in the post, there is no point him being out there. He has the ability to take this series away from the Rockets.
The Rockets were on record pace to break all of the three point shooting records before the season was cut short this year. They traded away their only viable big man in Clint Capela at the start of the season and adopted a completely small ball starting line-up, with their tallest starter being 6’7 wing Robert Covington.
The Rockets shoot a three nearly every time they come down the court, but it comes at a cost. They have next to no interior defence, so they need to take threes and make a lot of them to force their opposition to go small as well to better defend the perimeter.
Key Player: James Harden
The former MVP has been on an absolute tear since the season restarted, averaging 35.3 points, 8.7 assists and 9.2 rebounds per game over his last six games. The Rockets don’t win games through defense, they win them through outscoring their oppoenents and 90% of the Rockets offense runs through Harden.
Series Betting Picks
The Rockets have the star power here but this OKC team has true grit and grind mentality. They have a fantastic game managing point guard in Chris Paul that knows how to get the job done late in tight games.
This will be a good series, probably one of the best of the first round matchups, but the Rockets might just have too much fire-power. Back them to win straight up.
Game by Game
Tuesday August 18th, 6.30pm (ET)
Love the look of the overs here. Houston will carry their shooters mentality into the playoffs as it’s the only way they know how to win. 225 doesn’t seem enough if the Thunder are to remain competitive which is what we think they will do. Over 225 Total Points (-109 at DraftKings) ✅
Thursday August 20th, 3.30pm (ET)
The Rockets were too strong offensively in Game 1, putting up 123 points on the back of a 37 point game from James Harden. The absence of Russel Westbrook isn’t a massive issue to their offense as we didn’t think it would be. Expect them to continue to roll in Game 2. Rockets -2.5 (-110 at DraftKings) ✅
Saturday August 22nd, 6.00pm (ET)
2/2 in this series so far and we’ll be hunting another win in Game 3. Happy to stick with the Rockets here as their offense just looks way too dynamic at the moment and their defense is really doing a job on the Thunder with their switches and ability to run Steven Adams off the floor. They have held the Thunder to just 103.5 points per game and we expect them to take a 3-0 lead here. Rockets -2.5 (-114 at DraftKings) ❌
Monday August 24th, 4.00pm (ET)
We knew that game from the Rockets was coming, we just weren’t sure when. The three ball wasn’t falling for the Rockets in Game 3 as they shot just 15/50 from beyond the arc which afforded the Thunder a 12 point win in overtime. Russel Westbrook could return to the Rockets line-up for Game 4 but either way, we like Houston to bounce back here and take the win. Rockets -2.5 (-110 at DraftKings) ❌
Saturday August 29th, 6.30pm (ET)
The Rockets have lost the last two games and their series against the Thunder now sits all tied up at 2-2. They need to find their three-ball, and fast, as they jacked up a record 58 of them in Game 4 but still couldn’t come away with the win. One thing that is for sure, is that they wil keep firing away, and whether or not they go in, it should keep the pace of the game pretty high, which should result in another over. Over 225.5 (-110 at DraftKings) ❌
Monday August 30th, 9.00pm (ET)
What a series this has been so far and there’s massive potential for a Game 7 is the Thunder put in a solid performance on Sunday night. The three ball starting falling for the Rockets in Game 5, which is a worrying sign, and their defense was on point as they allowed just 80 points to the Thunder. As much as we would like to see a Game 7, we have to back the Rockets to cover again here. Rockets -5.5 (-110 at DraftKings) ❌
Wednesday September 2nd, 9.00pm (ET)
GAME 7 BABY! What a series this has been so far and what a Game 6 it was as Chris Paul and the Thunder came up clutch to force a deciding game. We have found it really tough to read this series from the very start so we are just going to sit back, relax and enjoy the ebbs and flows of this game. NO BET
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