NBA PLAYOFFS 2013
Regular season record: 60-22 Oklahoma City Thunder : Houston Rockets 45-37
Regular season series: Oklahoma City Thunder 2-1 Houston Rockets
- Oklahoma City ranks 2nd in offensive efficiency at 110.2. Houston ranks 6th at 106.7
- Oklahoma City shot 41.8 percent from three on 26.3 attempts per game in three games against Houston.
- Houston plays at the fastest pace in the league at 98.6 possessions per game. Oklahoma City plays the 10th fastest at 95.9 possessions per game.
- Expect a lot of pick and roll. Both teams are in the top 8 in pick and roll scoring.
- Houston has a middle-of-the-pack defense ranking 16th, as opposed to Oklahoma City’s 4th ranked defense.
Oklahoma City can win if…
Oklahoma City can win if they simply continue to be Oklahoma City. If they play how they’ve played throughout the year they should have no problem closing out this series in five or less games. But to do so, they’ll have to guard the three point line well and prevent Houston’s shooters from getting hot. The Thunder will also have to find a way to at least slow James Harden down. They have a lot of options as to who they can choose to play him with. Thabo Sefolosha is a good perimeter defender and will probably start out on Harden, but if that doesn’t seem to be working don’t be surprised if Scott Brooks tries to bother him with Kevin Durant’s length.
Houston can win if…
Let’s be honest, some sort of miracle (or magical three point barrage) would have to happen for the Rockets to pull this off. Though they have the offensive firepower to possibly keep the score close with OKC, they’re lackluster defense isn’t going to stop the Thunder from producing points. One thing that will be interesting to see is whether Scott Brooks will choose to match Houston’s small lineups. If not, having Kendrick Perkins on the floor could be an advantage for Houston. If the Thunder end up playing Derek Fisher major minutes, Patrick Beverley may be able to come in off the bench and give him a great deal of problems.
Don’t expect the Thunder to come out and feel any sympathy for James Harden. As cliche as it sounds, they’re going to want to come out and make a statement that they’re the team to beat in the West, after a season where they seemed less dominant than the year before. Oklahoma City has done a very good job defending the three all year, which is what Houston will need to knock down if they want any chance in this series. As much as I want to call a sweep, I do think Houston causes a few match-up problems and will hit enough threes to possibly win a game at home.
Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 Houston Rockets