The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets dispute the final place in the Western Conference semifinals. With the Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets already in, the winner of Wednesday’s Game 7 will complete the cast and face the Lakers in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
The Thunder avoided elimination in Game 6 with a strong performance from Chris Paul. However, they will need their other players to help CP3 in Game 7 against a Rockets team that can put up points in a hurry. Houston didn’t have its best game in the previous contest. However, they still had a chance to end the series. Unfortunately, they went cold down the stretch and the Thunder took advantage, stealing the win.
Game time will be at 9:00 PM ET at the AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida.
The OKC Thunder made the big plays down the stretch in Game 6 and Chris Paul scored 15 of his 28 points in that payoff period. But Remember that the Thunder had a seven-point lead with 8 minutes left to play and it was Houston who went on a run to take a six-point advantage with four minutes to go in the game. The Thunder closed out with good defense and Houston committed too many errors as OKC forced a Game 7.
Chris Paul had a big fourth quarter and it was his consecutive three-pointers that tied the game with 2:57 left to play. Thunder outrebounded the Rockets 51-41 and shot 42.7% from the field and were 12-36 from behind the three-point area. Danilo Gallinari bounced back with 25 points on 9-17 shooting while Lugentz Dort added 13 for OKC.
OKC ranks 14th in the league in playoff scoring as they are averaging 104.3 points per game. The Thunder are the top rebounding team in the postseason at 50.5 boards grabbed per contest. They are also 8th overall in scoring defense at 111.5 points per game allowed in this series.
The Houston Rockets had all the momentum going for them in this series when they won Game 5 in one-sided fashion. However, the Rockets went ice cold after leading 98-92 with a little over four minutes left in the game. But they let Chris Paul take over the game and allow themselves to be outscored 12-2 the rest of the way. Now they have to find a way to quash OKC’s momentum heading to Game 7.
Houston committed 22 turnovers in the game with Harden and Westbrook committing most of them. The Rockets also shot only 15-44 from behind the three-point area and 45.% from the field overall. James Harden had another big night with 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. Russell Westbrook added 17 points and three dimes while Robert Covington scored 18 points and had five steals. Houston will need a better effort from Eric Gordon who shot 3-12 with only nine points.
The Rockets rank 10th in the league in scoring during the postseason at 111.5 points per game. They are tied for 10th in rebounding at 43.2 boards grabbed per contest. They are also 10th in passing at 22 assists per contest. Houston owns the third-best scoring defense in the 2020 playoffs at 104.3 points per game allowed.
Oklahoma City is 5-5 SU in their last 10 games played. The Thunder are 0-5 SU in their last five games played on the road but 6-0 SU in their last six Wednesday games. Houston is 4-6 SU in their last 10 games played. The Rockets are 1-4 SU in their last five games played away from the Toyota Center. Head to head the Thunder are 6-4 SU in their last 10 games played against the Rockets but OKC is 3-14 SU in their last 17 games when playing Houston on the road.
We’ve heard about how good Chris Paul and the Thunder are in clutch situations this season. Paul has scored the most clutch points in the league this season and his teams have historically been good in games decided by five points or less. This ability to play in the clutch was given props for OKC’s Game 6 win. But OKC needs more than Chris Paul to produce in this game. Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder must bring their A-games too as they cannot afford to let the Rockets blow them out of this game, just as Houston did in their three wins during this series.
However, the Rockets have two MVPs who can take over a game as Paul can. Sure, CP3 outscored both Harden and Westbrook in the 4th quarter of Game 6 but I don’t see that happening ever again. The Rockets missed out on a chance to close out the Thunder in Game 6, and I don’t think they’ll screw up two games in a row. OKC’s offensive struggles in this series are well-documented. If one of Houston’s two MVPs heat up here, it’s going to be all she wrote. I’ll take the Rockets here as they still have the better team in this series.
Prediction: Houston Rockets
The Thunder are 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games played. OKC is 0-5 ATS in their last five games played on the road, and 3-6 ATS in their last nine games played against the Western Conference. The Rockets are 3-6 ATS in their last nine games played. Houston is 1-4 ATS in their last five games played on the road, 2-6 ATS in their last eight games on a Wednesday, and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games when playing as the betting favorite. Head to head, the Thunder are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games played against the Rockets.
OKC is just 1-5 ATS in their last six games after a win while the Rockets are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games after a win. Houston is also 1-5 ATS in their last six games after an off day. Both these teams have struggled against the spread and when you have a Game 7, you expect a close game with both teams fighting for their lives. The Denver-Utah game came to the last possession and I won’t be surprised if this one heads to that direction either. I’m leaning towards the Rockets here and I won’t blame you if you take the Rockets. But in an all-important game where the season is on the line, I expect this to be close. I’ll take my plus points here and go with the Thunder.
Prediction: Thunder +5.5
The total has gone over in six out of the last 10 games played by the Thunder. OKC has seen the total go under in three out of their last five road games. The under is also 8-4 in OKC’s last 12 games as the betting underdog. The total has gone under in six out of the last nine games played by the Rockets. The under is 9-4 in the last 13 head to head meetings between these two teams.
These teams have gone under the 218 total in four out of the last five games of this series. Each of the last two games has fallen over 20 points below the projected total. The Rockets have one of the smallest lineups in the playoffs but they have found a way to defend despite the size difference. The Thunder have struggled to shoot the ball in this series and I think that it’s going to be the same problem for them here. Houston is coming off a terrible night shooting from deep and with the series on the line, I expect both teams to be extra focused on defense. I like these teams to play to the under in what could be a highly competitive game.
Prediction: Under 218
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