Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Preview
Before their most recent games, neither the Oklahoma City Thunder nor the Houston Rockets were able to find success in the early going this season, but that all changed this weekend as they both found the win column. Tonight, as the Rockets host the Thunder, one of the teams will be looking to sustain that success.
The last time these teams played, it was late last season with James Harden leading the Rockets, and Russell Westbrook leading the Thunder, but now they are paired up in the same backcourt in Houston, while Chris Paul takes the reigns in OKC.
Time: 8 PM ET
Arena: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Channel: FSOK, ATTSN-SW
Thunder: Andre Roberson (O)
Rockets: Gerald Green, Nene, Michael Frazier (O)
Oklahoma City Thunder Starting Lineup
Tonight will be Oklahoma City’s second game of a back-to-back, so they may have road legs but they’ll also be riding high as they are now the second team to give the reigning Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors a shellacking. On Sunday, the Thunder blew the Dubs out 120-92 to get their first win of the season and go 1-2.
At one point, the Thunder led by as many as 42 points, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said the team will have to have a short memory as they have to quickly get ready for a challenge tonight.
“It’s the NBA,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “You play so many games you’ve got to forget the one you just played and get ready for the next one.”
In the game, they were able to get some help from starter Terrance Ferguson, who not done much in the first two games. He was one of five players to reach double figures. Dennis Schroeder came off the bench to lead all scorers with 22 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
Houston Rockets Starting Lineup
Like the Thunder, the Rockets found some success in their second game of the season on Saturday night with a 126-123 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Russel Westbrook passed Magic Johnson for second all-time in triple-doubles. He was aggressive in attacking the basket and finished with 28 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds.
“That’s a part of my job, and that’s one of my tools I can bring to the team is attacking the basket, whether it’s for other people of for myself,” Westbrook said. “I think that was something that allowed us to fuel our run that we had.”
All five members of the starting lineup scored in double digits, and Eric Gordon also came off the bench for 13 points. Harden led all scorers with 29 points along with his five assists and four rebounds.
If the Rockets can spread the offense around like they did against the Pelicans, that would definitely increase their chances of getting a win over the Thunder and moving over the .500 mark.
Key Player Matchups
Chris Paul vs. Russell Westbrook
Paul has always been known as one of the league’s top defensive point guards, but he’ll have his hands full with Westbrook here. Westbrook does have 3.5 turnovers per game, which isn’t bad considering his assist numbers, but if Paul can poke the ball away as he is known for, he may be able to limit and frustrate Westbrook some. While keeping Westbrook on the perimeter was a defensive tactic for most of his career, he has knocked down 40 percent of his three-pointers so far this season.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander vs. James Harden
You’ve got to love what Gilgeous-Alexander has done so far this season. The Thunder may not have the wins, but they have a lot to be excited about in the young guard, who is tearing it up with 27 points per game. Harden is not a great defender, so I don’t see him doing much to bother Gilgeous-Alexander, but Harden does so much on the offensive end that this matchup easily tips in Houston’s favor.
Steven Adams vs. Clint Capela
The battle of the big men should be fun to watch. Both are rim-running bigs, who are key in the pick-and-roll game and do a great job defending the rim. This is about as close a matchup as you can get.
While James Harden has a higher projection for tonight’s game, Westbrook has been the more consistent and has been getting it done in more categories, so look to Westbrook as a stud pick in this matchup. On Fan Duel, he is available for $9.4k and is expected to notch 47.6 points.
While you’d expect Chris Paul to be the pick for OKC, he’s been up in down in three games so far, so I’d look at Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who could also be considered a value pick at $7k. His projection is 29.2 points. Eric Gordon fills that value role for Houston with his steal of a value at $4.7k at a 23.2 point projection.
Bet on Matchup
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