The Thunder and Rockets are set to battle for the first game of their series in Orlando, FL.
After being given a 0.2% chance to qualify for the postseason before the season, the Thunder went out and played hard every night. An 0-6 start to the season would not stop them from proving the doubters wrong and achieving this goal. They are a talented bunch that is ready to go.
The motto when you have CP3 in your team is pretty simple. If there’s a will, there’s a way. They never quit and have made it to the playoffs.
Houston, on the other hand, was expected to be here. They moved Clint Capela at the deadline so they could play “super” small-ball, never using a natural big man. Tyson Chandler is the only remaining center on Houston’s roster.
They will be without Russell Westbrook tonight, so we’ll see how they can perform. They are underdogs for game one.
Oklahoma City is a 1.5-point favorite, with the over/under set at 225.
OKC Looking to Snatch Game One
With Westbrook not in the lineup, this is going to be anybody’s game. OKC also has Dennis Schroder back, so the three-guard set, which we haven’t been able to see much of in the bubble, can exist again. OKC is at their absolute best when they move Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to the small forward spot at the end of the game.
The team should not go out of their way to get Steven Adams overly-involved in the offense, but they should drop it to him from time to time. There is little-to-no chance of Covington/Tucker being able to slow him down for too long.
And for Chris Paul, whether he says it or not, this is personal. Houston dumped him to bring in Westbrook last summer, so he’s hoping to prove to them what they are missing out there. He’s got a lot of good basketball left.
Houston Looks to Take Off
With Westbrook not in the lineup, things will mostly revolve around James Harden. And for long stretches, that will be quite alright. But as the game hits crunch time, they can double Harden and take the entire team out of rhythm. As reliable as Austin Rivers has been, he cannot facilitate nearly as effectively.
Harden has yet to reach the finals since the early days of his career in Oklahoma City when he was still coming off the bench. But the goal this year remains the same. To try and take the team back there. And if they can catch fire from beyond the arc as a team, this could very well happen.
It would be equally as surprising to see a first-round exit, though, as a finals trip. We’ll see how the lack of size plays in.
Houston Sneaks a Win
The first game will go to the Rockets. They’ll hit 20+ threes and get enough stops to win.
FREE PLAY: HOU +1.5
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