Westbrook-Harden MVP Race Highlights Thunder at Rockets Sunday Showdown

Jay Pryce

Sunday, March 26, 2017 3:21 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 26, 2017 3:21 PM UTC

Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder clash with James Harden and the Houston Rockets Sunday afternoon (3:30 p.m. ET) with playoff seedings and MVP implications on the line. Click here for our best bet and preview.

The Houston Rockets (50-22 SU, 40-30-2 ATS), all but locked into the third-seed in the Western Conference, hosts No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder (41-30 SU, 40-30-1 ATS) in a potential first round playoff preview. It’s the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the two. Houston is 2-1 SU and 1-1-1 ATS in the prior trio with three points or less determining each contest. Overall, James Harden and company are 8-3 SU and 7-2-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings.

The Thunder enter having won six of their last seven, covering the spread in each victory. Victor Oladipo’s return from 6-game absence due to a back injury has boosted the club in this stretch. The shooting guard has taken some pressure off Russell Westbrook offensively, making an impressive 39 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-pointers according to the NBA’s SportVU data. Moreover, he runs the point when in with the second unit.

Westbrook, meanwhile, is torching the Rockets this season from the floor. In the previous three matchups, he’s averaging 35.3 points per game on 51.1 percent shooting. The MVP frontrunner recorded only one triple-double, however. It came in a 102-99 loss at Chesapeake Arena, one of only six defeats for the Thunder when accomplishing the feat (29-6 SU, 28-7 ATS).

The Rockets enter having won five of their last six at Toyota Center. They are 27-6 SU as home chalk thus season, but struggle to separate when up against competitive teams. As a single-digit favorite, Houston is 6-13 ATS, winning by 2.8 points per game against a -7.2 average line.

James Harden and company are also coming up short against the league’s better teams recently. Since Jan. 11, they are 4-8 SU and ATS versus foes with a winning record. Houston has tipped off chalk in all but three of the contests.

Houston will be without Ryan Anderson, who sprained his right ankle in the final minutes of the win over the Pelicans on Friday. The 6-foot-10 forward is averaging 13.5 points per game this season, and vital to the Rockets’ 3-point attack—Houston fires up a league leading 40.3 per game from downtown. Anderson’s 39.8 percent from behind the arc leads the team. In four games he’s missed this season, Houston is 2-2 SU and ATS, shooting just 29.9 percent from deep.

The Thunder are trending in the right direction, and the market is a step or two behind. Westbrook will take center stage in what is essentially a two-man race for the MVP with Harden. OKC +6 is the play. Don’t be shocked if the Thunder strike on the money line as well.  

Free NBA Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder +6Best Line Offered: at BetDSI

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