In one of the biggest games remaining in the regular season, the Thunder will be back in action on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 when it takes on the Houston Rockets.
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Here are a few things to know about the matchup:
Rockets Can Light Up The Scoreboard
After a disappointing season last year, the Rockets have bounced back in a big way under new head coach Mike D’Antoni. Houston currently sits as the third seed in the Western Conference and has won six of its last seven games including a win over the Cavaliers.
With D’Antoni preaching his run-and-gun offense, the Rockets are second in the league in scoring with 115.5 points per game while making over 46-percent of their shot attempts. Seeing they have an arsenal of knock down shooters such as Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams, the Rockets are hoisting a league-high average of 40.3 3-pointers per game and shooting a lot of teams out of the building.
Fortunately for OKC, Anderson will not suit up for the Rockets on Sunday due to an ankle injury.
An MVP Battle For The Ages
Both Russell Westbrook and James Harden have dominated the NBA headlines for much of the year, and on Sunday we’ll get to see them square off for the final time in the regular season. With both guys leading the MVP race, it’ll be interesting to see how they approach Sunday’s matchup.
Westbrook is leading the league in scoring with 31.2 points per game while Harden sits in second (29.4), but Harden has the upper hand in assists with 11.2 per game while Westbrook sits at third in the league with 10.4. Westbrook clearly has the rebound advantage (10.6) seeing he’s averaging a triple-double, but Harden also pulls his weight in that category as well with 8.1.
Harden has gained a lot of momentum as the potential favorite due to the Rockets’ overall success, but Westbrook has a huge opportunity to make a statement in front of a national TV audience.
A First Round Preview?
If they playoffs started today (they don’t), the Thunder and Rockets would be slated as first round opponents, and that definitely wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Seriously though, who wouldn’t sign up for an entire series that featured Westbrook and Harden going head to head with their respective seasons on the line? Not to mention, the MVP award is normally awarded around that time, which means whoever doesn’t win will try to show the world why they were worthy of taking home the hardware.
Houston would definitely be favored to win the series, but seeing Andre Roberson can defend Harden better than just about anyone in the league, the Thunder would have a legitimate shot at pulling off the “upset.”