Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets Pacers Pick – August 18, 2020
The Houston Rockets look to prove that they are a serious NBA Finals contender when they begin their playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.
It is interesting that oddsmakers believe that OKC will win the first game of this series, but they give the Rockets the better odds of winning the series (-162 to +135). That line of thinking is rooted in Russell Westbrook being out for the first game, maybe even two, but returning by Game 3.
The teams finished with identical 44-28 records, with each team going 4-4 in the seeding games. Houston lost their last three games, while OKC has lost two of the last three.
Thunder vs. Rockets Odds
|Thunder to Win||-126|
|Rockets to Win||+108|
With Westbrook out, the Thunder are given the edge as 1.5 favorites to win this game.
If you are thinking about placing a bet on the contest, you might as well give the 1.5 points and risk less. The moneyline is at -126 which is enough of a difference to simply give the points.
Thunder vs. Rockets Preview
The Houston Rockets felt they needed a true superstar to pair with James Harden, so they traded point guard Chris Paul to the Thunder for Westbrook believing that pairing him with Harden would make the team a serious contender. Oddsmakers seem to agree, placing the odds for Houston to win the title at +1,300, just behind defending champion Toronto.
They will likely win this series, but the absence of Westbrook in this game changes the dynamics. The Thunder are using a three-guard lineup that should be more difficult for the Rockets to defend without Westbrook available.
The Thunder also get big man Steven Adams back, who returned for the final game of the season. Adams had been out with a bruised left leg and his return helps improve the defense of OKC. They were allowing 108.1 ppg with him in the lineup, seventh best in the NBA.
OKC is not the only team that likes the small ball. Since Houston traded Clint Capela for Robert Covington, they have been going with a lineup that gives very few minutes to anyone over 6-foot-7.They like to push the ball, and that will be necessary to neutralize the effectiveness of Adams.
Thunder vs. Rockets Pick
These two teams were very evenly matched this season, so the loss of Westbrook for Game 1 is a difference maker. Houston is simply not the same team without him, so it will be essential that they attack the ball. The Thunder guards averaged seven turnovers per game against Houston in the three head-to-head contests and the Rockets will need to up that number if they are going to win.
Harden was terrible against OKC this season, shooting 32.8% from the field and he will have a bigger challenge without his sidekick. The Thunder will open the playoffs with a five-point victory.