The first taste of the NBA playoffs for a James Harden led Houston Rockets team was a tough one. Harden’s team was blown out 120-91 in Oklahoma City by the guard’s former team. Game two is Wednesday night and the Rockets are talking confidently about bouncing back, but the Thunder made a serious statement to the rest of the conference in Game one and they will want to reinforce that message in tonight’s match-up.
Harden knocked down 20 points in game one, but went 1-6 from three-point range in a game where poor shooting ultimately cost a Houston dependent upon hitting their shots all season long. He didn’t get a lot of help though. Jeremy Lin looked completely outmatched on both ends of the floor against Russell Westbrook, while Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons made next to no impact on the inside against a tough Thunder defense.
As bad as the game was for Houston, it was positive for an Oklahoma City team aiming to return to the NBA Finals one year after losing out to the Miami Heat. Westbrook and Kevin Durant would contend that the Western conference is a lot less wide open than many believe and they made that point in game one putting a young Rockets team to the sword. Durant knocked down 24 points and grabbed six rebounds in an efficient performance.
This is an extremely problematic match-up for Houston. Westbrook, Durant and Kevin Martin can shoot as well, perhaps even better than the Rockets’ talented shooters, while the inside match-up has been shown to completely favor Oklahoma City. The Thunder put down nine blocks to Houston’s one in game one and it’s probably fair to say that Scott Brooks’ team eased off defensively in the later stages of the game.
Playoff series can turn very quickly and Houston have the talented and skill to take a game or two off of the Thunder. However, the match-up points towards a comfortable series win for Oklahoma City.
Betting Preview: Oklahoma City (-11) vs. Houston
The big spread reflects the match-up, which doesn’t give that much credit to the Rockets. It is fair to assume that Houston will play tougher in game two and almost impossible to imagine them getting blown out by 29 points again.
However, the halftime margin in game one was 13 points. In Oklahoma City, it is just hard to see Harden and the Rockets staying within 11 points of the Thunder for four quarters of basketball. They are almost guaranteed to put forward a much better effort in game two, but this is still a very good spread to bet on.
The Pick: Oklahoma City (-11) [5dimes.eu]
Writer Record Against The Spread: 12-6