Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets Game 1 Preview
Where: Toyota Center — Houston, TX
When: Sunday, April 16, 2017 – 9:00 PM ET
TV Broadcast: TNT
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Betting on the Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook and his triple-double season (31.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 10.4 APG) are nothing short of superb, but the last six weeks of the regular season were still up-and-down for the Thunder. They had a four-game skid, a five-game winning streak, and they topped it off by an inconsistent 7-6 record in their last 13 games.
It also doesn’t look good that OKC lost three of the four meetings with Houston this year.
HOWEVER, do know that this playoff matchup can easily be closer than that, especially when you consider that experience can be a big factor in such a series. Westbrook has the edge in explosiveness, and more than that, he has more postseason mileage than his Rockets counterpart, James Harden, as evidenced in appearing in two conference finals in his last three playoff appearances.
“Brodie” put up 36.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 9.3 assists when facing Harden and company this season.
Adding to that is his supporting cast’s superiority in the paint – Enes Kanter (14.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG), Steven Adams (11.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG), Taj Gibson, and even rookie Domantas Sabonis have a good chance to outplay and out-muscle Clint Capela, Montrezl Harrell, and Nene Hilario.
The Thunder are 7-2 in their last nine games on the road (6-3 ATS).
Betting on the Houston Rockets
The Rockets, of course, will come in as one of the most high-powered offenses we have seen in recent memory. They concluded the regular season ranking first in threes (14.4 per game) and second only to the Golden State Warriors in points (115.3 PPG) and offensive efficiency.
As mentioned, they won this year’s head-to-head matchup with OKC, 3-1, with their offensive production identical to what their season stats indicate. The same happened to Harden – his averages of 29.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 11.2 assists in the series mirror what he netted per game all season.
Having consistent scoring firepower will be the key to the Rockets’ success in the postseason, particularly versus the Thunder. It is a must that they stick to their strength and execute it well, since their ability in the shaded lane are not appealing. Capela and Harrell are athletic, hustling bigs who are certified bruisers, but they may be overwhelmed by the Thunder’s array of low post weapons.
Houston is 7-2 in its last nine games at home (3-6 ATS).
The Rockets fire the opening salvo, 113-105.
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