Thunder-Rockets: Harden Gets Best Of Westbrook, Former Team

Friday, February 8, 2019 1:56 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 1:56 PM UTC

It’s a duel of former MVPs on the Saturday ABC primetime game this week as James Harden and the Rockets host Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. The home team usually wins in this series.

<h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" rel="nofollow">Oklahoma City (35-19, 31-23 ATS) at Houston (32-22, 25-28-1 ATS)</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET (ABC)</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Free NBA Pick: Rockets ATS</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Best Line Offered: <a href=";book=BetOnline" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">BetOnline</a></h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3569606, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,93,169,238,1275], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>With Russell Westbrook and the Thunder visiting James Harden and the Rockets on<a href="" rel="nofollow"> Saturday in the NBA’s marquee matchup, </a>sometimes it’s easy to forget what the Thunder COULD have been considering they once had Kevin Durant, Westbrook and Harden on the same team. If OKC hadn’t acted cheap on a Harden extension, the Thunder never would have had to trade him to Houston in October 2012. Think Durant ever leaves that super team?</p><p>Houston perhaps got a bit better ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline in landing Iman Shumpert in a three-way deal involving Sacramento and Cleveland. The Rockets certainly lost nothing immediately in that trade in sending out Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss and a protected 2019 first-round pick to the Cavaliers. Shumpert is a 3-and-D guy Houston has missed badly since Trevor Ariza left in free agency this summer. Shumpert also has plenty of postseason experience. In addition, Houston got Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin but immediately dumped them.</p><p>The Rockets and Thunder have split two meetings this season, each winning at home back in the 2018 portion of the schedule. Harden is averaging 30 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists. Westbrook only played in the Christmas loss in Houston, putting up 21 points and nine assists. Paul George is averaging 24.0 points and 12.5 rebounds.</p><p>These teams have split the past 12 overall. Houston has won seven of the past eight at home.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;bUt HE oNlY ShOoTs fReE ThRoWs&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;🏀 36pts&lt;br /&gt;🏀 2 free throws made &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#MVP&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;February 7, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><h2>Bet Thunder Or Rockets ATS?</h2><p>Houston has followed a two-game skid with three straight wins – all on the road. The Rockets were very slight favorites Wednesday at rising Sacramento but rolled to a 127-101 win. Harden had 36 points to extend his streak of 30-point games to 28 in a row, third-best in league history. He only had two free-throw attempts, tying his season low.</p><p>Eric Gordon was back Wednesday after missing a game and had 20 points in 22 minutes. He’s probably going to be on a minutes restriction for a while. Kenneth Faried had 13 points and 11 rebounds. He has been a fantastic pickup after being bought out last month by Brooklyn. “Manimal” is averaging 16.1 points and 10.2 rebounds in nine games with the Rockets.</p><p>Oklahoma City won for the ninth time in 10 games Thursday, trouncing short-handed Memphis 117-95. Westbrook set a career high with his eighth straight triple-double (15 points, 15 assists, 13 rebounds). The NBA record is nine in a row by Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. It’s almost old hat now for Russ to finish a season averaging a triple-double. He did it the last two and is again this year at 21.2 points, 11.2 assists and 11.1 rebounds. The latter two numbers would be career highs.</p><p>Yet the best player on the Thunder this season has been George, who had 39 points, eight rebounds and three steals vs. Memphis. Over his past five, he’s averaging 38.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.4 steals. George is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Oklahoma City was quiet at Thursday’s trade deadline.</p><ul> <li>Thunder are 6-14 ATS in the last 20 meetings.</li> <li>Rockets are 12-5-1 ATS in their last 18 vs. Western Conference.</li></ul><p>This is one series where you should simply back the home side if every key player is healthy. That’s what we recommend here for a <a href="" rel="nofollow">Saturday NBA pick.</a> That Houston on an extra day of rest doesn’t hurt.</p>
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