Thunder vs Rockets Preview & Free Pick [Game 5]

Oklahoma City (2-2) vs Houston (2-2)
When: Wednesday, August 26th, 2020
Where: The Field House,
Orlando, Florida
Time: 6:30 ET | TV: TNT
Opening Odds: Houston -3/225

It appeared that the Houston Rockets were going to roll right into the second round after taking the first two games of their first round series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Two games later, and we now have a best-of-three duel because the Thunder know how to win tight games. Oklahoma City improved to 32-5 on the season in games within five points in the final five minutes with a 117-114 victory in Game 4 on Monday. The Rockets are once again 3-point favorites coming into Wednesday’s Game 5 with a total set at 225. Despite the loss on Monday, Houston is 8-3 in their last 11 games playing on one day rest. The Thunder have gone 7-2 against the spread in their last nine games against the Rockets, but have a 1-4 record against the spread (ATS) in their last five games following an ATS win.

OKC is having success with a three-guard lineup with Dennis Schroder, Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander combing for 74 points on Monday. Schroder’s 30 points was a playoff career-high, with Paul contributing 26 points against his former team. Gilgeous-Alexander had 18 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists as the Thunder drained 48.8 percent from the field, the best showing for them this postseason. Undrafted Thunder rookie Lu Dort has been doing his best at holding James Harden at bay. Dort helped limit Harden to just 13 second-half points in Game 4.

All five starters scored double-digit points in Game 4 with Harden of course leading the way with 32. Eric Gordon had 23, Danuel House Jr. added 21, Robert Covington chipped in 14 and P.J. Tucker finished with 11. Harden’s output makes him the only player in NBA postseason history to record at least 30 points, 15 assists and five rebounds and lose the game. The status of Russell Westbrook is questionable for Game 5, so the Rockets could lean on their bench once again. The reserves were not great in Game 4, as they were outscored 43-13 by the Thunder’s bench. The Rockets hit 23 three-pointers on 39.7 percent accuracy in Monday’s setback. After scoring 22 points in Game 3, Jeff Green only managed 10 in Game 4.

I hate that Westbrook might not play again, but I still believe Houston is the better team here. I expect them to get more from their bench in Game 5 and lean heavily on Harden to get the win and cover.

Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today. He is on a 17-6 Run!

Pick: Rockets -3.5