The Thunder will battle the Rockets in a battle of MVP candidates in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Rockets are favored to win this series according to the NBA odds at most sportsbooks.
The Rockets won the season series 3-1 SU and ATS, with two of the games going 'Over' while the other two went 'under." The Thunder prevailed in the first meeting on November 16 but Patrick Beverley missed that game with a knee injury. Beverley is the only Houston player who can at least contain Russell Westbrook, but the Thunder won by just two points, 105-103, in the game that he missed.
Since then, the Rockets have won their last three games against the Thunder, including a convincing 137-125 victory on March 26 in Houston.
The NBA Playoffs are a completely different animal from the regular season and being discounted for MVP by some because Harden led the Rockets to a better record will make Westbrook play with a chip on his shoulder.
The Thunder have a significant size advantage with Steven Adams and Enes Kanter and they rank in the top 10 in the league in defensive rebounding and offensive rebounding, so Clint Capela and Nene Hilario will have to step up big time.
Russell Westbrook has been dominant (31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists), but James Harden's numbers are also impressive (29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds). Harden didn't average a triple-double, but his value to the Rockets is undeniable and he is also looking to make a case for the MVP trophy, so he will not take this series lightly.
Betting Trends & Series Price
The Thunder (47-35 SU, 45-36-1 ATS) went 19-22 ATS in road games and 26-14-1 ATS in home games. The Rockets (55-27 SU, 42-39-1 ATS) went 18-23 ATS in home games and 24-16-1 ATS in road games.
The Rockets are 8-3 SU and 9-2 ATS in 11 games against the Thunder over the last three seasons and six of the last 11 games in this series have gone 'Over' the total.
The top two MVP candidates going at it makes this one of the most entertaining playoff series in the last few years. Getting at least four playoff games between two former teammates who have dominated all season long is not something that happens often, so these games will be fun to watch. The series price at William Hill is at -300 for the Rockets while the Thunder are at +225 NBA odds.