Nov 2, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) passes against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the third quarter at Toyota Center. Rocket won 110 to 105. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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Houston Rockets hit the road again to face Russell Westbrook’s Thunder who are looking to get back on track after 4 tough losses.
While some may feel the Houston Rockets should have a better record than their 6-4 current standing, in fairness they’ve played 7 of those contests on the road. So tonight features their 8th game in 11 not played at the friendly confines of the Toyota Center. Given those tough circumstances the 6-4 record is telling.
Conversely the Thunder have played just 4 games on the road of their first 11. To compare the Thunder’s record of 6-5 to the Rockets 6-4 then would give an edge to the Rockets given their copious road games.
That said the Rockets can’t afford to relax just because the Thunder don’t feature Kevin Durant or are on a 4-game losing streak. Let’s not forget the Oklahoma City Thunder still feature the league’s 6th best defense, so the Rockets can’t afford to take OKC for granted.
Mar 22, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket against Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets Starting 5:
Rockets fans will have to wait one more game for the return of Patrick Beverley who is set to come back Thursday versus the Portland Trail Blazers as per Mike D’Antoni’s post practice comments.
Apr 3, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) dribbles the ball as Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) dribbles against Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) at Toyota Center. Rocket won 110 to 105. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Beverley – rotoworld reports Beverley is ahead of schedule following the knee scope. As per above Mike D’Antoni said following practice Beverley will make his season debut tomorrow night versus the Blazers.
Cameron Payne remains out after fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot. Cameron and the team have elected to wait to see if the bone heals on it’s own. This move on it’s own points to the fracture not being as severe as Durant’s was for example. CBS Sports notes Payne is out until November 25th at a minimum.
Apr 5, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots the ball as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) defends during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Harden versus Westbrook: It doesn’t get much better than this! The top 2 contenders for MVP in the West offer an intriguing positional match. Harden is besting Westbrook in assists while it’s the reverse for rebounding . Harden has the benefit of a more talented squad and better shooters to work with and needs to utilize that plus to his advantage.
Offense versus Defense: Entering the game the Thunder boast the 6th best defense in the Association while the Rockets feature the 6th best offense. Looking at the squads on the opposite ends of the court the Thunder aren’t tearing things up on offense sitting 24th while the Rockets rank 22nd defensively.
Cut out the turnovers: The one area the Rockets will need to be extremely careful is in their ball management. Harden specifically will have to be careful not to turn over the ball given the Thunder excel at taking those turnovers and translating them into quick points off of fast break and their solid transition game.
Ignore the losing streak: Even though the Thunder have lost 4 straight those losses have accumulated versus 2 of the League’s top teams (Clippers, Raptors) and a young rising Magic team who had a motivated Serge Ibaka looking for revenge. Houston can’t afford to take this team for granted or they’ll make them pay.
For more details on the squads check out the 2016-17 team previews: