Oklahoma City (53-23) at Houston (37-39)
When: Sunday, April 3rd 2016
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Time: 3:35 ET | TV: ABC
Two teams going in opposite directions meet Sunday afternoon in Houston as the Rockets host the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets are playing themselves right out of the playoffs thanks to a skid that has seen them lose five of their last seven games. Houston is on the outside looking in at both Dallas and Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Rockets were outscored 32-20 in the fourth quarter on Thursday and lost 103-100 at home to the Chicago Bulls. Houston was 6-of-21 shots from the field in that quarter and are now a game behind both Dallas and Utah. Patrick Beverley scored a season-high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Michael Beasley collected 20 points and 11 rebounds on Thursday for his first double-double since joining the team on March 4th. Houston will have a big game at Dallas on Wednesday that could ultimately determine the last playoff spot.
The Thunder all but locked up the three-seed in the West on Thursday by edging the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers 119-117. That victory put Oklahoma City up by 5.5 games with six to play. The Thunder will be tested the last few weeks of the season heading into the playoffs, but they’re already playing like a contender right now. They have won nine of their last ten including a 111-107 victory over this Houston team on March 22nd. Russell Westbrook managed to complete another triple-double in that game despite going 0-for-7 from three-point land. Westbrook made the key defensive play that led to the go-ahead basket on Thursday and grabbed a rebound to clinch it at the end, capping off a 26-point, 11-assist, eight-rebound, four-steal performance. Serge Ibaka is 24-of-42 from the field over his last four games. Oklahoma City plays five of their last six on the road including Portland and San Antonio.
I have to take the Thunder in this game despite it being on the road. Houston is just not playing well right now and Westbrook and Kevin Durant are just too hard to stop. Houston is 26th in points allowed this season.
Pick: Thunder -3