Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Matchup Preview
This has been somewhat of an odd series as it has been mostly overshadowed by the others. Russell Westbrook is working his way back and there has not been much talk around James Harden. Oklahoma City has also struggled in most games as they have had stretches that make you question how they got into the playoffs. Houston can finish off the Thunder tonight as they will have a date with the Lakers if they do. Oklahoma City is coming off of a horrendous Game 5 performance and will need better play from Steven Adams and Danilo Gallinari if they want to move on. The Thunder have struggled to keep up with Houston as their secondary scoring is very hit and miss. However, this team was certainly a longshot to make the postseason and have overachieved in a few areas to get here. The Thunder are five-point dogs and the over/under is set at 226 tonight. Oddsmakers are expecting the Thunder to show up and have a better outing.
Time: 9:00 PM ET
Arena: HP Field House, Orlando, FL
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Thunder Starting 5
Oklahoma City struggled in Game 5 as they had three out of the four quarters under 20 points. Danilo Gallinari had one of the worst games of his career, scoring one point and finishing -27. Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also struggled in the backcourt. Most starters didn’t see the 30-minute mark as the bench got some extended minutes in the blowout. The Thunder will have a tougher task with Westbrook back, even if he is playing limited minutes. We knew Steven Adams was going up have an up and down series given Houston’s small-ball takes him out of play at times. The Thunder will ride or die with shooting from Dennis Schroder and Lou Dort. Oklahoma City is going to need to force more turnovers as they have struggled to slow down this Houston offense. They are also shooting just 41% from the field over the last three games and have to rely on Houston having an off shooting night themselves.
Rockets Starting 5
Russell Westbrook returned for Game 5 and played 24 minutes. His shooting was off going 3-13 from the field but that is somewhat expected after a few weeks off. 24 minutes was a good pace and he was +21 still dishing out seven assists. Robert Covington and Eric Gordon both shot well from the field and Harden had 31 points of his own. Houston has had an edge scoring 117 points per game this season and has averaged 111 over the last three games. The Rockets have also forced more turnovers against the Thunder this season and points off turnovers have helped them go on some major runs. Houston has also done a great job by rebounding this series and Westbrook being back will help in that department as well. This was an area where Oklahoma City was potentially going to hurt them but that has not been the case.
Rockets vs Thunder Fantasy Basketball Angle
James Harden continues to be the star to pay up for, especially on a two-game slate. Russell Westbrook isn’t quite back up to full minutes and the price is not reflective of that either. Harden has averaged over 50 fantasy points per game across the regular and postseason vs Oklahoma City. Even though he hasn’t shot well, he seemingly finds a way to get over that 50 mark. Both Eric Gordon and Robert Covington remain secondary options to consider. For Oklahoma City, Chris Paul is going to need to have a big game if they want a Game 7. Paul has averaged 39 fantasy points across the eight meetings this season.
Rockets vs Thunder Betting Odds
Thunder Odds: +185
Rockets Odds: -225
Spread: HOU -5
After a blowout in Game 5, oddsmakers have put the Rockets as five-point favorites against the Thunder. The Thunder have been 7-3 ATS over the last ten meetings, and the under has hit six out of ten times. Overall these games have been close on average, as Houston has only an average win differential of two points in those ten meetings.
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