Game 1: Sunday, April 21st at 8:30 CT in Oklahoma City (TNT)
Game 2: Wednesday, April 24th at 6:00 CT in Oklahoma City (TNT)
Game 3: Saturday, April 27th at 8:30 CT in Houston (ESPN)
Game 4: Monday, April 29th (Time TBD) in Houston
Game 5 (if needed): Wednesday, May 1st (Time TBD) in Oklahoma City
Game 6 (if needed): Friday, May 3rd (Time TBD) in Houston
Game 7 (if needed): Sunday, May 5th (Time TBD) in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22, Northwest Division Champions) vs Houston Rockets (45-37, third in Southwest division)
Season Series: Oklahoma City Thunder 2-1
November 28, 2012 (120-98 for Oklahoma City)
December 29, 2012 (124-94 for Oklahoma City)
February 20, 2013 (122-119 for Houston)
Points: Thunder – Kevin Durant (28.1), Rockets – James Harden (25.9)
Rebounds: Thunder – Kevin Durant (7.9), Rockets – Omer Asik (11.7)
Assists: Thunder – Russell Westbrook (7.4), Rockets – Jeremy Lin (6.1)
Kevin Durant recently became the sixth player in NBA history to join the 50-40-90 club, shooting at least 50% from the field, 40% from three-point range and 90% from the free-throw line.
Why the Oklahoma City Thunder will win this series:
They are the far superior team. Only five eighth seeds in NBA history have ever won a first-round series, although three of those five upsets (2007 Golden State Warriors, 2011 Memphis Grizzlies, 2012 Chicago Bulls) have taken place over the last six years. The Houston Rockets are no slouch, but they aren’t ready just yet to contend with the likes of the Thunder. When three of the four best players in the series (Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka) are on your side, you have a pretty good chance of emerging victorious. Don’t expect the reigning Western Conference Champions to drop any more than one game in this series.
How the Houston Rockets can pull off the upset:
The majority of the scoring load is going to have to fall on the shoulders of James Harden. In the Rockets only victory over the Thunder this season, Harden scored 46 points on 14 for 19 shooting, including 7 for 8 from three-point range. Even with that incredible offensive output, Houston only managed to win by a minuscule three points. The Rockets and Thunder are ranked second and third respectively in points per game, while Houston is third-worst in points allowed (102.5). In order for this team to keep this series competitive, not only will they need a lot of scoring (even more so) from Harden, but other players like Jeremy Lin and the emerging Chandler Parsons will need to remain consistent and thorough on the offensive end, as well.
Final Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder in five