NBA Playoffs Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Game #4

2013 NBA Playoffs – Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #4
#1 Oklahoma City Thunder at #8 Houston Rockets
Thunder Lead Best of Seven Series 3-0
Monday, April 29, 2013, 9:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Toyota Center – Houston, Texas
Opening Line: Oklahoma City -1
Current Line: Oklahoma City -1
Opening Total: 206 1/2
Current Total: 206
Opening Money Line: Thunder -125 / Rockets +105
Current Money Line: Thunder -120 / Rockets +100

Kevin Durant and the Thunder look to sweep the Rockets Monday night in Houston.
Kevin Durant and the Thunder look to sweep the Rockets Monday night in Houston.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are up 3 games to none in their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Houston Rockets. They can close out the series with one more win, and game #4 is tonight in Houston. That is the good news for the Thunder. The bad news is All-Star guard Russell Westbrook is out for the rest of the playoffs after undergoing successful surgery Saturday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

After a 120-91 rout in game one, OKC has won 2 straight games by 3 points in which they blew large leads. The Thunder were up 15 in the fourth quarter of game two before the Rockets came back to take a 4 point lead. The Thunder would come back for the 105-102 win. In game 3 Saturday night in Houston, OKC  jumped out to a 26 point lead in the second quarter. However, the Rockets would erase the lead in the second half. Thunder forward Kevin Durant scored 41 points and added 14 rebounds in the absence of Westbrook, including the go ahead 3 that bounced on the rim 3 times before falling in. The Thunder would make their free throws down the stretch, but Houston had a chance  to tie at the end of regulation. Carlos Delfino missed a good look at a 3 at the buzzer, and the Thunder held on for the 104-101 win. It was the sixth win in seven games against the Rockets for the Thunder this season.

Oklahoma City is coached by Scott Brooks. The Thunder are 51-32-2 ATS and the total is 37-46-2 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 scored 14 points in game 3, including 2 crucial free throws down the stretch to give the Thunder a 3 point lead. 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 coached by Kevin McHale. Houston is 42-42-1 ATS and the total is 42-43 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. 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. Francisco Garcia, Donatas Motiejunas, Greg Smith, Thomas Robinson, Patrick Beverly and Terrance Jones make up the rest of the rotation.

Oklahoma City is 8-0 ATS against teams with winning home records, 6-0 in road games, 4-1 in conference quarterfinal games and against teams with winning records, 19-6-1 after allowing 100 points or more, 20-8-1 against Southwest Division teams,  and 45-20-3 against Western Conference teams.

Houston is 4-9 ATS after the opponent allowed 100 points or more, 2-5 in conference quarterfinal games, and against Northwest Division teams, 1-4 after allowing 100 points or more, at home, against teams with winning records, overall, and against Western Conference teams, and 0-6 after scoring 100 points or more. The home team is 11-5 ATS in the last 16 in the series.

The Thunder jumped out to a huge lead in the first ahlf of game three, thanks to 27 first quarter points from Durant. However, he would only score 14 points for the rest of the game. Ibaka scored 17 points, Jackson scored 14, and Martin scored 12. Durant needs more help than that especially when the Rockets double team him. As a team Oklahoma City shot 37.9% from the field. If they can shoot better then they should be fine. More importantly than getting by the Rockets, they need to improve on offense in the next round against the Clippers or Grizzlies.

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