Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder Preview
The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder are both set up for the postseason, and if the playoffs started today, they would be involved in a first-round matchup, but a lot can change as the season wraps up tomorrow night. The Rockets will travel to OKC tonight looking to hold onto their current playoff seed or climb even higher as Oklahoma City will be hoping to avoid slipping in a very close photo finish for the sixth through eighth seed.
The Rockets are 53-28 and are just a half-game behind the Denver Nuggets for second in the Western Conference. The Rockets have been red-hot as they close out their season. They are on a six-game winning streak and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. The Thunder are 47-33, have won their last three games and are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Thunder have a half-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers for sixth in the Western Conference.
The Rockets and Thunder last played on February 9, with the Thunder taking home the 117-112 win in a showcase featuring former teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Westbrook had a triple-double, but it was Paul George who led the Thunder to the win with 45 points. Harden scored 42 points in the loss for Houston.
Time: 9:30pm ET
Arena: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Houston Rockets Starting Lineup
At one point this season, it seemed as though the Houston Rockets would never get over the hump as they struggled early. Then there was the laundry list of injury issues. But through it all, James Harden kept the ship afloat and as they look to tip off their final regular season game tonight, the Rockets are looking like one of the best teams in the playoffs and they have a chance at moving up to the second seed.
“It’s big for us,” Harden said of tonight’s game. “But we’ve been playing well so it’ll be great to end the season the right way.”
The Rockets have most certainly been ending the season the right way, and ending it by extending their streak to seven straight wins would put a bow on the 2018-19 season for sure. In their Sunday win over the Phoenix Suns, they came out of the gates on fire, scoring 77 first-half points and really dominating the Suns through the first three quarters.
Of all the starters, only James Harden played more than 26 minutes, so they should be well-rested for tonight. Harden had a near triple-double, with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists in just 29 minutes. Eric Gordon added 26 points, Clint Capela was strong once again with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
A byproduct of a big win was that several other players got involved. Three bench players, Danuel House, Nene and Austin Rivers scored in double figures.
Oklahoma City Thunder Starting Lineup
The Oklahoma City Thunder had been struggling to close out the season, but there’s been a shift lately as they’ve won their last three straight against the Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan has been tinkering with his rotations a bit lately as he looks toward the playoffs.
“I think that’s why you always want to keep your roster engaged during the course of the year because I think everybody’s got to be in a position to step up — because if you’re in a seven-game series, adjustments, matchups, how you’re looking to play, you want to be able to rely on guys in different situations,” he said.
In their 132-126 win against the Timberwolves, the Thunder got big games from Westbrook and Paul George. Russ notched another triple-double, with 28 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds. George had 27 points and seven rebounds. Jerami Grant, Terrance Ferguson, Dennis Schroeder, and Markieff Morris also scored in double figures.
The Thunder now face a tough back-to-back to close out the season as they take on the Thunder tonight and finish the season tomorrow night against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder Betting Odds
The Rockets are 2.5-point favorites to win tonight’s game on the road. Houston is 22-18 on the road and 43-20 as the favorite. The Thunder are 26-14 at home and 10-8 as the underdog.
The over/under is 230 points and the Rockets are -140 on the moneyline.
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