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Houston Rockets versus Oklahoma City Thunder: Possible first round playoff match-up?

Oklahoma City Thunder
Photo credit via Flickr: Keith Allison

The Houston Rockets head into the game with a 52-28 record and 22-18 on the road. They have won five straight and eight of their last ten. Oklahoma City has a 26-14 home record and 46-33 overall. The Rockets have taken two of the three previous games this season between the teams.

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Team statistical comparisons

Both teams are in the top third in scoring. Houston is 11th in fewest points allowed, while the Thunder are in the middle of the pack in that category. The biggest difference in the teams is on the boards. The Thunder are third in rebounding and the Rockets are third from the bottom. Houston relies on the three-point shot, launching 45 per game and 13th in three-point field goal percentage. Houston takes care of the ball much better than the Thunder, ranked 7th in turnovers compared to 17th for the Thunder.

Veteran back court leads the Rockets

James Harden and Chris Paul run the show for the Rockets. Harden leads the league in scoring at 36.2 points per game, which is the highest mark since Michael Jordan’s 37 points per game average 30 years ago. The combination or Harden and Chris Paul have combined for over 15 assists per game, with Paul leading the team at 8.2. Center Clint Capela is one of the only good rebounders on the team, leading the way at 12.7 per game. Kenneth Faried, Daniel House and PJ Tucker can also give teams fits on the perimeter, hitting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc.

Paul George and Russell Westbrook carry the load

The duo of George and Westbrook have carried the Thunder all season and this game and the playoffs will be no different. George leads the team in scoring at 28.1 points and in steals at 2.2 per game. He’s also connected on 39 percent from beyond the arc. Westbrook is second in scoring and is averaging a triple-double at 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game. Dennis Schroder (15.3 points), Steven Adams (9.6 rebounds) and Jerami Grant (13.5 points, 39 percent 3pt percentage) add excellent complimentary pieces.

Betting Prediction

Houston is firmly entrenched as the third seed and the Thunder are battling with the Spurs and Clippers for 6th through 8th seed in the West. Because the Thunder have more to play for, the best bet is towards the Thunder. Look for a tight game with Oklahoma City edging the Rockets, possibly in overtime.

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