NBA Picks: Rockets vs. Thunder Game 1 Picks

Steven Suarez

Saturday, April 20, 2013 1:50 AM GMT

Saturday, Apr. 20, 2013 1:50 AM GMT

James Harden and the Rockets will try for a huge upset over Kevin Durant and the Thunder in Game 1. Is there any hope for Houston

Odds Overview

NBA odds makers have opened the Thunder as 10-point favorites for Game 1 in Oklahoma City. During the regular season, they were quite successful when holding so much chalk, going a combined 16-9 ATS when favored by 10+ points. 

Along with the Denver/Golden State series, this Western Conference battle should feature a ton of offense. The O/U for Sunday's contest has risen from an opening number of 212.5 to as high as 213.5.

Find out where we are looking to place our picks on this series' price.

Oklahoma City Thunder 

Kevin Durant may not have won the scoring title, but he doesn't care. There's only one thing on his mind and that's winning his first title

Durant averaged 28.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 4.6 APG while shooting 51.0 percent overall, 41.6 percent from three, and 90.5 percent from the line. His partner-in-crime, Russell Westbrook, had averages of 23.2 PPG, 7.4 APG, and 5.2 RPG for the season. 

Kevin Martin wasn't able to replicate the same level of impact James Harden had in OKC, but his shooting ability was still an X factor. It may come down to the role guys such as Martin, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, Reggie Jackson, and Nick Collison here in the postseason.

Not only do the Thunder have a dynamic duo, they also know what the bitter taste of defeat is like. They were left heartbroken in the finals last year and are going to do everything in their power to avoid that feeling again. 

Houston stands in the way first. Will Oklahoma City (60-22 SU, 49-31-2 ATS) be able to start the playoffs off in style? 

Houston Rockets 

A tough loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in their regular season finale meant the Rockets finished with the eight seed out of the Western Conference. They ended up at 45-37 SU and 41-40-1 ATS. 

In Houston's final six regular season games, they went 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS. Hardly the way Kevin McHale would have wanted his team to perform down the stretch.

If the Rockets can't get a win in Phoenix (119-112 loss), how on earth are they going to steal away a game in Oklahoma City? The Thunder own one of the best home-court advantages in the association, so Harden and company are going to have to do something special if they want to avoid a quick series loss.

Harden can practically score at will with his ability to hit shots from anywhere and his aggressiveness in getting to the rim. But Houston's success may come down to the contributions from Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik, as well as role players like Carlos Delfino and Greg Smith. 

To end the regular season, the Rockets went 1-5 ATS in their final six games overall and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 road matchups. Nonetheless, it'll be interesting to see what kind of challenge Houston will present for one of the top overall favorites.

[gameodds]5/226779/43/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick 

Defensive intensity tends to pick up come playoff time, but we forecast a high-scoring encounter between the Thunder and Rockets in Game 1.

Three times these teams met up in the regular season. The final totals ended at 218, 218, and 241. Notice a trend?

When it comes to placing their NBA picks,  a large portion of the public will be a little skeptical about taking the OVER with such a high number on the board, but we are sticking to our guns. Let's add the OVER to our sports picks for what should be an explosive first game of the series.

NBA Pick: OVER 212.5

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