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Game Day #53: at Rockets

Oklahoma City Thunder (39-14 16-10 A) at Houston Rockets (29-26, 18-8 H)

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Where: The Toyata Center – Houston, TX
When: 7:00 pm
TV:
 FS Oklahoma (679 Directv, 37 Cox, 754 AT&T U-Verse, 416 Dish)
Online StreamHere.
RadioWWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: OKC favored by 3 . O/U – 215.0
Projected Lineups:

Thunder Rockets
PG: Russell Westbrook  Jeremy Lin
SG: Thabo Sefolosha  James Harden
SF: Kevin Durant  Chandler Parsons
PF: Serge Ibaka  Patrick Patterson
C: Kendrick Perkins  Omer Asik
6th: Kevin Martin  Toney Douglas

Last Time: Last time these two teams met, Oklahoma City dropped the Houston Rockets 124-94 back on December 29th. Russell Westbrook flirted with a triple-double with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.

The All-Star break is over. Oklahoma City is back on the road to start the “second half” of the season. They head to Houston, where a handful of the Thunder players spent this weekend for the All-Star game. Time to get focused again for the number two team in the Western Conference.

Oklahoma City is actually on a two game losing streak heading to this game. Lebron James had a performance for the ages as the Miami Heat led by as much as 25 points in the game before eventually winning 110-100. Kevin Durant though, despite his 0-of-7 shooting start, finished with 40 points. A lot of people were in a bit of a panic after losing to the Heat. Demanding a trade, but we’re about to see if Oklahoma City is in panic mode, or what.

Houston, the league’s top scoring team is coming off a 106-96 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Jeremy Lin led the Rockets with 14 points, 7 assists, despite not having James Harden. Harden sat out the game with an ankle injury. The Rockets did have some solid bench help. The Rockets had three bench scorers in double figures.

While this is a much different Rockets team, they know how to score though. They are the best scoring team in the NBA, putting the ball in the bucket for an average of 106.1  points per game. While they’re good at scoring, they’re not very good at defending. They are almost the worst team defensively, giving up 103.3 ppg. They know how to rebound the ball at ranking tenth in the league. 43.1 rebounds per game. They’re ranked seventh with 23.2 assists per game.

Oklahoma City seems to be injury free. We will update if that changes. For the Rockets, they only have one real injury, that’s Toney Douglas. He’s questionable for tonight’s game with a hip injury in Friday’s contest against the Trail Blazers early on after suffering a hip pointer. Douglas sustained the injury late in the first quarter and did not return to the game.

This is going to be the 18th match up between the Rockets and the Thunder since the move to Oklahoma City. The Thunder are trailing in the series 9-8. The thunder picked up the win earlier this year to end the Rockets two game winning streak. Oklahoma City is just 3-5 in Houston since moving from Seattle. Oklahoma City owns the overall series with a 101-96 advantage.

Keys to the Game

Get it together
Sometimes, coming off the All-Star break, teams can lose their focus and do not play up to their potential. Oklahoma City needs to get their minds back on the prize of a world championship, not just winning some random ball games. You’ll see almost immediately if Oklahoma City is here to play.

Turnover Battle
Oklahoma City is bad at turning the ball over. However, Houston is a lot worse. Houston is the worst in the league at turning the ball over. So, I think it’s going to come down to who ever can turn the ball over the least? Yeah, the least.

Thabo vs. Harden
The stifling defense last time against Harden was impressive. Oklahoma City basically copied what the Heat did against him in the finals, and it worked. Not many teams have the length and talent to do that. The Thunder need to do this again. Harden is so key here. He’s why Houston is doing so well. He’s Houston’s heart, and we need to stomp on it.

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Founder & Editor-in-Chief. Member of the Professional Basketball Writer's Association. Lover of Advanced Stats. Russell Westbrook apologist.


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