Two red hot Western Conference teams face each other as the Houston Rockets visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday 11/8/18 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
After a disastrous 1-5 start, the Houston Rockets who finished as the best regular season team during the 2017-18 campaign, have won three straight games. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder opened their season a winless 0-4 but have since rattled off six straight wins to put themselves in the thick of the fight.
The Houston vs OKC games in recent years have been a showcase between former Thunder teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Westbrook won the NBA MVP award in 2017 and Harden was named as last season’s MVP. But this game should be an exception as all eyes will be on the return of Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City.
It can be recalled that Anthony was traded to the Thunder from New York last season. But after just one season there, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks who waived him before the current season started. Melo signed with Houston to team up with good buddies Chris Paul and James Harden.
Anthony is currently averaging 14.7 points and shooting 36.2% from behind the three point line for the Rockets this season. He has averaged 17.7 points per game and has shot 39.1% from behind the arc during Houston’s current three game winning streak. While the key players for Houston remain Harden and Chris Paul, Anthony could be the important third force that gives the Rockets and added boost.
The Thunder were off to a disastrous 0-4 start to their season but have since racked up six straight wins to push their record to 6-4. Expectations were high on the Thunder after Paul George decided to re-sign with the team. But George struggled to shoot at the start of the season and the Thunder struggled with him. Now the Thunder are playing like they are on the same page and everything seems to be falling in its proper place.
However, Russell Westbrook suffered an ankle sprain during their win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Russ missed their last game against the Cavaliers but summer acquisition Dennis Schroeder stepped up with 28 points to help the Thunder win their 6th in a row. Westbrook is questionable in this game and if he doesn’t suit up, OKC will need Schroeder to deliver again if they are to beat the high powered Rockets.
Oklahoma City leads the all-time series between these two teams at 109-107. These two teams are 5-5 in their last 10 games against each other but the Thunder won last season’s series 2 games to 1. Despite their mediocre record right now, the Rockets are 4-1 on the road this season while the Thunder are just 3-2 in their first five home games.
The Rockets are 3-1 SU in their last four games played and 4-1 SU in their last 5 games on the road. On the other hand, the Thunder are 5-0 SU in their last 5 games and 4-2 SU in their last 6 games at home. Head to head, The Rockets are 8-3 SU in their last 11 games against the Thunder but only 7-14 SU in their last 21 games against the Thunder in OKC.
The Thunder are hoping that Westbrook suits up for this game. Russ missed the Thunder’s last game dealing with an ankle sprain. If Westbrook isn’t ready to go then Billy Donovan is going to roll with Schroeder once again.
On the side of the Rockets, James Harden has been good as ever since his return. The reigning NBA MVP scored the tie-breaking three pointer in Houston’s win over the Indiana Pacers in their most recent outing. In the two games since his return from injury, Harden has averaged 26.5 points and 6.5 assists per game.
With Harden back and healthy, it appears like the Rockets have re-discovered their old form and are now starting to win games. The Thunder are on a roll too but with Westbrook questionable in this game, we’re going with the Rockets. We’re picking the Houston Rockets to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on 11/8/18.
The Rockets are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games played and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games against teams with a winning record. Meanwhile, the Thunder are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games played but are 4-8-1 ATS in their last 13 home games. Head to head, the Rockets are 12-5-1 in their last 18 games against the Thunder and 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games in Oklahoma City’s home court.
These two teams play well against each other. Nine out of their last 11 games played have been decided by single digits, six of which were five points or fewer. The good thing is that the two games decided by double digits were both won by the Rockets. During the Rockets’ current winning run, their average margin of victory is 6.33 points per game. If Westbrook doesn’t suit up, this spread is peanuts for the Rockets. If Westbrook somehow plays, it’s going to be a dogfight but even then, I think the Rockets will win. Prediction: Rockets -4.5
The under is 4-2 in the Rockets’’ last six games played and the under is also 7-3 in Houston’s last 10 road games. On the other hand, the over is 4-2 in the Thunder’s last six games and also over in 4 out of their last 5 games at home. The total has gone under in 4 out of the last 5 meetings between these two teams and the under is 11-4 in the last 15 games between these teams in Oklahoma City.
The Rockets have always been known to be an offensive team but during their current three game win streak, it’s their defense that has been the highlight of the show. The Rockets have allowed less than 100 points per game in those three games. That sample size is too small really but it’s indicative of how the Rockets have been winning this season. The Thunder scored at least 111 points in the first five games of their winning streak but scored only 98 in their most recent game against the Cavs. Prediction: Under 213.5