Playoff preview: No. 3 Rockets vs. No. 6 Thunder

No. 3 Houston Rockets vs. No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder 

As far as first-round matchups go, it doesn't get much better than this, as James Harden and Russell Westbrook — the NBA's top-two MVP candidates — are set to go toe-to-toe at least four games in a row. What's more, the first three times these teams met in the regular season, the games were decided by a combined seven points.

Game 1 - at Rockets, Sunday, April 16, 8 p.m., TNT

Game 2 - at Rockets, Wednesday, April 19th, 7 p.m., TNT

Game 3 - at Thunder, Friday, April 21, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 4 - at Thunder, Sunday, April 23, 2:30 p.m., ABC

Game 5 (if necessary) - at Rockets, Tuesday, April 25 (TBD)

Game 6 (if necessary) - at Thunder, Thursday, April 27 (TBD)

Game 7 (if necessary) - at Rockets, Saturday, April 29 (TBD)

Season series - Rockets won 3-1.

Starting lineups:

 

  • Rockets - Patrick Beverley (9.5 ppg, 4.2 apg, 5.8 rpg), James Harden (29.1 ppg, 11.2 apg, 8.1 rpg), Trevor Ariza (11.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.1 apg), Ryan Anderson (13.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.9 apg), Clint Capela (12.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg)
  • Thunder - Russell Westbrook (31.9 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 10.4 apg), Victor Oladipo (16 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.6 apg), Andre Roberson (6.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1 apg), Taj Gibson (8.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.6 apg), Steven Adams (11.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1 bpg)

 

Rockets win if - They make shots. We hate to say it's that simple, but if any combination of Harden, Anderson, Ariza, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams get hot, the Rockets have the firepower to beat anyone.

Thunder win if - Westbrook gets some help offensively (particularly from shooters), Roberson's defense frustrates Harden (significantly) and the bigs dominate the glass and cash in on second-chance opportunities.

Need to know:

 

  • Rockets - Set the NBA record for single-season three-pointers made.
  • Thunder - Are 33-9 when Westbrook records a triple-double.

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