Houston Rockets: Takeaways From Game One Victory Over Thunder

MVP favorites Harden, Westbrook get first-round showdown

2017 NBA Playoffs: Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder preview, outlook

Do not be surprised if the Rockets take this series in five or even four games after handing the Thunder a crushing defeat like this one. The Thunder turned the ball over nine times in the third and let the Rockets go on a 54-28 run the rest of the way. He can't prefer 25-footers to 2-footers. "We have to go back to the drawing board and see what we did wrong and see what we can do better and go from there". I think he gives them a better chance even if he is diminished somewhat due to fatigue by playing the whole game.

When Russell Westbrook is out of the game, the Thunder seems to fall apart, but in the fourth quarter of Game 2 he seemed to get exhausted. I like Harden's supporting cast more than Westbrook's though, as Houston is a dynamic offensive team, especially at home.

Beverley's job is to be the Rockets' antagonist, and he plays it on and off the court. They can afford to turn loose Roberson, Victor Oladipo, Alex Abrines, Semaj Christon and Norris Cole.

Sixth man guard Eric Gordon has resurged his career in Harden's company along with forward Ryan Anderson after leaving the New Orleans Pelicans.

They guy did everything. It happened for a half Sunday night.

The Thunder had hoped contesting Houston's 3-point shooters would slow down its historically good offense. A handful of National Basketball Association teams can cover them, and defensive-resistant Oklahoma City isn't among that group. Sure, you can't expect 6-23 shooting from Russ every night, and Patrick Beverley's injury situation bears watching over the coming days. but after Game 1, it appears the Thunder might just not have the fire power to hang with one of the all-time best offensive attacks in league history. What's more, the first three times these teams met in the regular season, the games were decided by a combined seven points. They text and talk often during the season. Imagine matching up against that former teammate in the first round of the playoffs as the top 2 MVP candidates.

Looking at the betting trends, the Thunder are 4-2 ATS in their last six road games and 5-3 ATS in their last eight Conference Quarterfinals games. Retribution would be delicious. "They still made some tough shots, which they're going to do. As long as we hang our hat on defense and we lock in and we know the game plan". Westbrook will take the Thunder close, but ultimately the Rockets have more depth and will win an entertaining, high-scoring affair. Houston will carry a four-game series winning streak into Wednesday, a streak that means precious little. "I just want to win".

The only reason the Thunder made the playoffs was because its superstar refused to be overshadowed over an 82-game schedule. In Houston's spread floor offense, Harden has carte blanche, room to create, to paint the flawless scoring picture. Sunday night he was overshadowed by Roberson, a member of his own inferior supporting cast. Thunder coach Billy Donovan abruptly subbed out Kanter after a play in the fourth quarter, when Beverley exploited misplayed pick-and-roll coverage and found Clint Capela rolling to to the rim for a dunk.

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