Houston (3-2) vs Oklahoma City (2-3)
When: Monday, August 31st, 2020
Where: AdventHealth Arena,
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: TNT
Opening Odds: Houston -6.5/225
The Houston Rockets can advance to their fourth straight Western Conference semifinals with a win on Monday over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of their first round series. Houston turned a short three-point halftime lead into a route in Game 5 on Saturday as James Harden scored a game-high 31 points on just 15 shots while playing only 28 minutes. The Rockets harassed Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander into 2-for-8 shooting and Danilo Gallinari to a series-low one point on 0-for-5 shooting. The aggressive defense forced rookie Lugentz Dort into missing 13 of 16 shots including an ugly 0-for-9 display from beyond the arc. Oklahoma City shot a miserable 31.5 percent in Game 5 and missed 39 of 46 3-pointers. Ouch! The Thunder have made a habit of rebounding from deficits, with their victories in Games 3 and 4 after falling behind 2-0 in the series. The Rockets have averaged a 20.7-point margin of victory in their three series wins. The winner of this series will face the LA Lakers in the second round.
Russell Westbrook was back in the lineup but appeared rusty, scoring seven points on 3-for-13 shooting in 23 minutes in his first game in the playoffs after missing time due to a quad injury. He was still able to produce six rebounds and seven assists in his limited minutes. The Rockets went on a 19-2 run to start the second half, leading by as much as 25 points in the third quarter. Houston held the Thunder to just 35 total points in the second half on Saturday. The Rockets, who are averaging 113.8 points per game in the series, are 3-2 against the spread in their last five games.
Saturday’s 80 points was the lowest total of the season for Oklahoma City, who are sure to put up a better effort in Game 6. Dennis Schroder was ejected in the third quarter and still led the team with 19 points in 21 minutes. Chris Paul was the next highest scorer with 16 points in just under 30 minutes of action. The third member of the three-guard system, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, was held to four points on 2-for-8 shooting, while Danilo Gallinari had just a single point. It remains to be seen if Schroder will be suspended for his altercation with PJ Tucker on Saturday. If so, the Thunder will lean more on the bench play of Darius Bazley and Terrance Ferguson. The Thunder are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games against Houston.
Oklahoma City is not out of this yet, but I think Houston is a little too strong for them. Westbrook is still getting his playing legs back and should have a much better game on Monday. The Rockets will continue to nail three-pointers and pull away late.
Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today. He is on a 18-8 Run!
Pick: Rockets -5.5