With the NBA playoffs underway, the Houston Rockets and the OKC Thunder are at a critical stage in their first-round series. After the Rockets took charge with a 2-0 lead, the OKC Thunder have crawled back to level the series at 2-2. With the momentum in their favor, Chris Paul and company will hope to take this series before Russell Westbrook returns.
With the series now hanging in balance, let us take a look at how both teams stand.
OKC Thunder Preview
The OKC Thunder had a disastrous start to this series, losing the first two games to the Houston Rockets. They seemed helpless as James Harden and company slaughtered them on the offensive end. They were sorely missing Luegentz Dort on the defensive end of the floor.
In the previous two games, however, they have made a spirited comeback. In Game 3, Chris Paul led the Thunder to a thrilling overtime victory after James Harden fouled out of the game. In Game 4, the Thunder's three-guard lineup came through as they beat the Houston Rockets in a close game.
The OKC Thunder displayed their bench strength in their wins, with Dennis Schroder putting up great numbers.
The OKC Thunder have been dark horses for a long time this season. They seem to be in great shape in this series and with their wins, they now have the momentum to take this series and head into the second round of the playoffs.
Houston Rockets Preview
The Houston Rockets started the series perfectly with James Harden playing the role of the primary scorer as well as the playmaker. Eric Gordon took on the task of driving to the basket in Russell Westbrook's absence, and took an early 2-0 lead in the series and seemed to be in prime position to sweep the Thunder.
In the last two games, they have struggled on the offensive end as the Thunder picked up their defensive intensity. James Harden has struggled with his three-pointers and the OKC Thunder have managed to catch up to them in this series.
The Houston Rockets have failed to hold out in the fourth quarter in these games and let the OKC Thunder run away with victories.
With Russell Westbrook expected to return soon, the Houston Rockets will be confident of making it to the second round. They will have to be wary of their weaknesses that the Thunder have exposed in the past few games.
Houston Rockets vs OKC Thunder Prediction
While the OKC Thunder have been on a run in the last two games, the Houston Rockets are still favorites to take this series. With Russell Westbrook expected to be back soon, the Rockets will be more dominant on the offensive end and the Thunder will likely find it very difficult to catch up in close games.
The OKC Thunder have the momentum in their favor with their two consecutive wins and have kept up with the Rockets' offense so far. They will have to take advantage of second-chance points and step up their perimeter defense if they hope to make it to the second round.
We predict a 7-game series won by the Houston Rockets against the OKC Thunder, despite the latter coming into this game on a high.
Published 25 Aug 2020, 16:17 IST