The NBA is set up with a solid night of action on September 2 as two games are up on the board. One of these games will be an exciting Game 7 matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. These two teams have met in a back and forth series so far and I expect an exciting conclusion. This game will tip off at around 9:00 PM Eastern time on ESPN.
Oklahoma City finished out the regular season with a record of 44-28, which put them in fifth place of the Western Conference. The Thunder were able to go 4-4 throughout the seeding games to hold onto the fifth seed. Now Oklahoma City finds themselves in a tough round one matchup with the Rockets, who they will look to eliminate with a win on Wednesday night.
The Rockets also earned a regular season record of 44-28, which had them as the fourth best team in the Western Conference. Houston has not trailed in this series so far, but find themselves tied up again. With it all on the line, the Rockets will look for their offense to step up to help them earn the Game 7 win over the Thunder.
These two teams have gone back and forth all series long, which should lead to an exciting finale. I expect both teams to come out quickly to control the pace of the game on Wednesday night. If Oklahoma City can lock the Rockets in a more defensive battle, it could make it really tough for Houston to close out this series.
Game 1 and 2 of this series were dominated by the Rockets. James Harden dropped 37 points and 11 rebounds in Game 1 to help lead Houston to a strong 123-108 win in the series opener. Harden put up another 21 in Game 2 as the Rockets starting lineup combined for 79 points. Houston was able to take a 2-0 series lead with a 111-98 win.
Oklahoma City was able to bounce back in Game’s 3 and 4 of this series. The Thunder saw Dennis Schroder drop 29 points off the bench in Game 3, while Chris Paul put up another 26. Oklahoma City cut the series lead to 2-1 with a 119-107 win in overtime. Schroder put up another 30 points in Game 4, while Paul had 26 points. The Thunder tied up this series with a 117-114 win.
Game 5 of this series was back on August 29. Dennis Schroder kept up his strong play, dropping 19 points off the bench, but the Thunder could not get their offense going. James Harden posted 31 points, while Robert Covington finished with 22 points. Eric Gordan finished with another 20 points as the Rockets took the series lead back with a 114-80 win.
The most recent game of this series was Game 6 on August 31. James Harden kept up his dominance in this series with a 32 point performance for Houston. Covington finished with another 18, which was not enough. Chris Paul put up 28 points, while Danilo Gallinari put up another 25 points. Oklahoma City finished with a 104-100 win to force Game 7.
Field Goal Percentage
Oklahoma City’s offense has not been shooting really well throughout this series. The Thunder have made around 42.5 percent of their shots from the field in the postseason, which is last in remaining teams. Oklahoma City has also only made 30.6 percent of their shots from deep, which is only better than the Philadelphia 76ers of the sixteen playoff teams.
The Rockets have not been the best team shooting from the field in the playoffs, but they have been better than Oklahoma City. Houston has made 44.1 percent of their shots from the field in this series. The Rockets have also made 36 percent of their shots from behind the arc. Both numbers are in the bottom half of the original sixteen playoff teams, but has been enough to stay in this series.
This game will come down to whether or not Oklahoma City’s defense can slow down the Rockets offense. Houston’s offense has the ability to be extremely dangerous if they go off, but the Thunder have kept them in check throughout most of the series. The Thunder will need to be a bit better shooting the ball if they want to take Game 7 though.
Chris Paul has been the leader for this Thunder team in the playoffs. Paul is averaging 21.5 points and 7 rebounds per game throughout this series. Dennis Schroder has averaged 18 points per game off the bench, while Danilo Gallinari is averaging 17 points per game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged 16 points per game in this series and Steven Adams is averaging 10 points and 12 rebounds per game.
James Harden has been going off for Houston in this series. Harden is averaging 32 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds per game. Eric Gordan has averaged 17.5 points per game in this series. Danuel House and Jeff Green are both coming off the bench, averaging 13.5 points per game. Robert Covington has averaged 12 points per game.
The Rockets will need more production out of Russell Westbrook, who is averaging 12 points per game in his two games back. The Thunder have shut him down in these last two games, but if Westbrook can put up a dominant performance, it could eliminate his former team. The Thunder will look for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to step up in this matchup.
Oklahoma City has done a great job erasing two separate series deficits to force a Game 7. The Rockets have looked like the better offensive team though and I think it will push them through in Game 7. Houston has won their games in a more dominant fashion, while all of the Thunder’s wins have been tight finishes. If the Rockets get some consistent offense in Game 7, it should knock off Oklahoma City.
BetOnline has Houston listed as a -5 against the spread in Game 7 of this series. This gives a solid edge to the Rockets coming into the series conclusion, which I agree with. Houston has looked like the better team in this series, but Oklahoma City has done a great job sticking around. If the Rockets can shake them early though, it should help them move on to the second round.