Houston Rockets at Thunder: 2017 Game 32: Five things to watch

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 23: Russell Westbrook
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 23: Russell Westbrook /

The 25-6 Houston Rockets hope to end their two-game losing streak to start another winning streak against the 18-15 Oklahoma City Thunder, marking yet another terrific Christmas Day match up.

The Houston Rockets do have quite a few injuries but we still have the goods to beat a team that’s floating on the edge of mediocrity.

The Houston Rockets have had a bit of rest and now will be ready, set go to avenge the senseless losses they had against the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers last week. Russell Westbrook has enjoyed a resurgence by getting things done shooting from the mid-range (57 percent) and the restricted area of the court (71 percent).  That’s up from 29 and 55 percent respectively over the past five games.

If they can contain them in those areas, they’ll have it made because their offense has to go through him in order to be effective.  We’ll see about that but Eric Gordon will be tasked with that job to guard him.  I’d imagine James Harden will be on him as well in some defensive sets.

It’ll also be interesting to stop a front line featuring Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams as well so keep your eyes peeled on what Jeff Bzdelik throws at them to get them off guard.

1.) So who’s leading the charge for the Thunder?

Of course, Russell Westbrook leads in points (23.6 PPG), rebounds (9.3 RPG) and dimes (9.9 APG).  Paul George has the steals covered (2.6 SPG) and Andre Roberson is the team’s top shot-blocker, averaging a meager 0.9 BPG.

2.) Let’s talk about what the Thunder do well.

They’ve dramatically improved their defense.  The Thunder are now 3rd in defensive efficiency, allowing just 101.2 points per 100 possessions.  They finished 10th in the league last season, allowing 105.1 points per 100.  That’s a full 4.1 points less than last season that they’re giving up.

They’re tremendously impact the boards.  The Thunder are 1st in rebound rate, taking 53.4 percent of missed shots.  The team is 3rd in defensive rebound rate (79.0) and 1st in offensive rebound rate (28.0).

The like to keep the ball in their hands frequently.  The Thunder are 8th in PACE, averaging 100.5 possessions per game.

3.) Injuries:

Chris Paul is suffering a sore left leg, the same leg where he had the knee soreness earlier this season.  As with the previous injury, the team will take their time bringing him back in the fold.  He is considered day-to-day and has already been ruled as DOUBTFUL for tonight.

More from House of Houston

Clint Capela bruised his left heel against the San Antonio Spurs Dec.15th and has been out since.  However, his status has been upgraded to QUESTIONABLE for tonight.  I still have my doubts that he plays or if he does, it will be in extremely limited minutes.

Luc Mbah a Moute dislocated his shoulder Dec. 13th on a hard spill after a breakaway dunk a contest against the Charlotte Hornets, having to exit the game early and not return.  The MRI he had didn’t reveal any significant damage is still currently on track to return within the next couple of weeks.

There are no injuries to report for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Source(s): Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

4.) Matchups to Watch:

  1. Eric Gordon vs. Russell Westbrook
  2. Trevor Ariza vs. Paul George
  3. Nene Hilario vs. Steven Adams
  4. Ryan Anderson/Tarik Black vs. Carmelo Anthony

Next: THREE Reasons why there's hate for James Harden

5.) Prediction:

113-108 in a Houston Rockets’ win!

The Rockets hit the road to take on the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST.

The game will be televised on ABC and broadcast on SportsTalk 790 AM, Sirius/XM/SiriusXM Internet 890 and La Ranchera 101.7 FM (KNTE) & 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.

Go Rockets.