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Oklahoma City Thunder

Game #80 Preview | Houston Rockets

The Thunder Guys

thethunderguys

Tip-Off: 7:30 PM CT

Location: Toyota Center (Houston, Texas)

Television: ABC

Radio: WWLS 98.1FM OKC The Sports Animal

Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game

The Thunder is stumbling towards the end of the regular season, and at this point, it’s near do or die in terms of making the Playoffs. Taking a look at the final three games for Oklahoma City, two wins appears to be enough to make the postseason, but nothing is guaranteed, and the Thunder could desperately use a win against the NBA’s best team, the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets have lost only two games since the All-Star Break, the best in the NBA by three games, while the Thunder has gone 12-8 in the same time period. On top of that, the Rockets have only lost six games at home all season, another stat that puts them ahead of the rest of the NBA. Houston has locked in the top-seed in the West, so they have little to play for in terms of postseason incentive, but the budding rivalry between these two teams will undoubtedly play a part in this evening’s matchup.

The key stat to watch tonight is free throw shooting. The Rockets have attempted nearly twice as many free throws as the Thunder in their two meetings so far this season, and Oklahoma City has struggled mightily from the charity stripe lately. In the last four games, the Thunder is averaging a mere 68.2% success rate from the free throw line. If Houston is able to get the free throw line early and often, Oklahoma City could find themselves in a hole too deep to get out of.

Projected Starters

Thunder

  • PG: Russell Westbrook
  • SG: Corey Brewer
  • SF: Paul George
  • PF: Carmelo Anthony
  • C: Steven Adams

Rockets

  • PG: Chris Paul
  • SG: James Harden
  • SF: Trevor Ariza
  • PF: P.J. Tucker
  • C: Clint Capela

Injuries

Thunder

  • Andre Roberson (left patellar surgery) is OUT.

Rockets

  • Ryan Anderson (left ankle sprain) is OUT.
  • Tarik Black (lower back stiffness) is QUESTIONABLE.
  • Eric Gordon (left ankle soreness) is QUESTIONABLE.

Head-to-Head

  • Since arriving in Oklahoma City in 2008, the Thunder is 15-20 against the Rockets (11-8 at home, 4-12 on the road).
  • In nine seasons, the Thunder has won the season series with the Rockets three times, lost it four times, and tied twice.
  • The Rockets won the regular season series with the Thunder 3-1 last season. The Rockets also knocked the Thunder out of the first round of the playoffs, winning that series 4-1.
  • This is the third and final meeting between the Thunder and the Rockets this season. The teams split the first two meetings, which were both played in Oklahoma City.
  • The Rockets attempted a season-low 72 shots from the field in a 122-112 win against the Thunder on March 6th in Oklahoma City.
  • James Harden recorded a season-high 10 turnovers against the Thunder on March 6th in Oklahoma City.
  • In the two games played so far, Houston has shot 54/65 (83.1%) from the free throw line, while Oklahoma City has shot just 26/34 (76.5%).
  • The Rockets made 17 three-pointers against the Thunder on March 6th in Oklahoma City, tied for the most by a Thunder opponent all season.

Game Notes

  • Oklahoma City has won just one of the last five games, while Houston has won two in a row.
  • Oklahoma City is 5-5 in the last 10 games, while Houston is 9-1.
  • Oklahoma City is 19-20 on the road, while Houston is an NBA-best 34-6 at home.
  • Oklahoma City is 26-24 against the Western Conference, while Houston is 40-9.
  • Oklahoma City is 0-2 after three days of rest, while Houston is 39-9 after one day of rest.
  • The Thunder is currently seventh in the West. A win could put them as high as fifth, while a loss could drop them as low as ninth, depending upon how other NBA games play out tonight.

Be sure to check out this week’s episode of Thunder Things with the Thunder Guys.

Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter & Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

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