NBA Playoffs Preview: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder Game #5

2013 NBA Playoffs – Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #5
#8 Houston Rockets at #1 Oklahoma City Thunder
Thunder Lead Best Of Seven Series 3-1
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:30 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Opening Line: Oklahoma City -8
Current Line: Oklahoma City -8 1/2
Opening Total: 208
Current Total: 207 1/2
Opening Money Line: Thunder -425 / Rockets +355
Current Money Line: Thunder -500 / Rockets +400

Kevin Durant has been on fire since Russell Westbrook was injured.
Kevin Durant has been on fire since Russell Westbrook was injured.

The Oklahoma City Thunder won the first three games of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Houston Rockets, but were unable to complete the sweep Monday night. The Thunder played games 3 and 4 in Houston without All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook who tore his meniscus in game 2. Westbrook is out for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery last Saturday. The Thunder routed the Rockets 120-91 in game one, and won 105-102 in game two, both in Oklahoma City. The Thunder won game three in Houston 104-101. In both game two and three the Thunder blew huge leads and had to hold on for the win. The Rockets wouldn’t go quietly in game 4 though. They took a 60-53 lead at halftime. Houston was up by 6 with about a minute to play, but Oklahoma City pulled to within 105-103 with seconds left. Kevin Durant scored 38 points and was double teamed on the last shot for the Thunder. He passed it to Reggie Jackson, who was starting in place of Westbrook. Jackson missed a jump shot in the paint. Thunder forward Serge Ibaka grabbed the rebound but missed a lay-up at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime. Still the Thunder return home to Oklahoma City for game 5, so they have a great shot at closing out the series.

Houston is coached by Kevin McHale. Houston is 43-42-1 ATS and the total is 43-43 this season.  The Rockets are outscoring teams 106-103 this season. The Rockets are second in the league in scoring but are #28 in points allowed. The Rockets are shooting 46.1% from the field and 36.6% from 3 point range. Houston is #9 in the league in both categories. The Rockets make 75.4% of their free throws. Houston averages 43.4 rebounds and gives up 41.6 per game. The Rockets are in the top 11 in both categories. Houston opponents  are shooting 45.4% from the field and 36.7% from 3 point range. The Rockets average 23.2 assists, 8.3 steals, 4.4 blocks, and 15.8 turnovers per game.

Guard James Harden averages 25.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Harden finished 5th in the league in scoring, behind Carmelo Anthony, Durant, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. Small forward Chandler Parsons averages 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1 steal a game. Point guard Jeremy Lin averages 13.4 points, 3 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He is questionable with a chest injury after missing game 4. Shooting guard Carlos Delfino averages 10.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal a game. Center Omer Asik averages 10.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. He is probable with a back injury. Francisco Garcia, Donatas Motiejunas, Greg Smith, Thomas Robinson, Patrick Beverly and Terrance Jones make up the rest of the rotation. Beverly was involved in the play that injured Westbrook and has received death threats from people in Oklahoma City, most notably a Thunder ball boy.

Oklahoma City is coached by Scott Brooks. The Thunder are 51-33-2 ATS and the total is 38-46-2 this season. Oklahoma City is outscoring teams 106-97 this season. The Thunder are #3 in scoring and #9 in points allowed. OKC is shooting 48.1% from the field and 37.7% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #3 in both categories. Oklahoma City leads the league in free throw shooting at 82.8%. The Thunder average 43.6 rebounds per game and give up 40.7 per game. They are #6 in both rebounding and rebounds allowed. OKC opponents are shooting 42.5% from the field and 34.6% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #2 in opponents’ field goal percentage, and #6 in three point defense. Oklahoma City averages 21.4 assists, 8.3 steals, 7.6 blocks, and 14.6 turnovers per game.

Forward Kevin Durant averages 28.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. Durant lost the scoring title to Knicks’ forward Carmelo Anthony by six tenths of a point. Guard Russell Westbrook averaged 23.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Second year guard Reggie Jackson will start in place of Westbrook for the playoffs. He was the second leading scorer for the Thunder in games 3 and 4.. Guard Kevin Martin averages 14 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Martin was acquired in the James Harden trade. Forward Serge Ibaka averages 13.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. Guard Thabo Sefolosha averages 7.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Nick Collison, Ronnie Brewer, Kendrick Perkins, and Hasheem Thabeet  make up the rest of the rotation. The Thunder signed veteran point guard Derek Fisher late in the regular season for the playoff run.

Houston is 4-1 ATS after the opponent scored 100 points, and on one day rest, 3-7 overall, and against Western Conference teams, 2-5 after a straight up win, 1-4 in road games, 1-5 after a cover, and 1-6 after scoring 100 points. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 in this series.

Oklahoma City is 19-7 ATS after allowing 100 points or more, 13-5 against teams with losing road records, 5-2 against Southwest Division teams, 7-3 against teams with winning records, 37-16 after a straight up loss, 45-21-3 against Western Conference teams, 44-21-1 after failing to cover, 1-4 at home, after the opponent allows 100 points or more, and after scoring 100 points or more. The home team is 12-5 ATS in this series recently. The Thunder are 6-2 ATS in the last 8 at home against the Rockets.

Houston will have some confidence  in game five knowing they had late leads in games 2 and 3. However, i think the Thunder want no part of going back to Houston for game 6. Durant has been double and triple teamed since Westbrook was injured. Jackson is averaging 16 points, but Durant needs some more scoring help.  I like Durant to have another huge game and the Thunder close it out.

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