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Thunder Playoff Game Day Game 1: at Houston Rockets

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Sunday, April 16 :: 8:00 p.m. CST :: Toyota Center (18,055)

Thunder Playoff Game Day Game 1: at Houston Rocketsvs. Thunder Digest

TV: TNT (245 DirecTV, 31 Cox, 730 HD 108 AT&T U-Verse, 138 Dish)
Online Stream: here.
Radio: WWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: Oklahoma City is a 7-point underdog. O/U is 227½
Notes: Thunder: here | Rockets: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Welcome to the 2017 NBA Playoffs where your Oklahoma City Thunder are in Houston to take on the Rockets, led by James Harden.
  • Oklahoma City finished 47-35 on the season, sixth in the West. Houston went 55-27 and finished third.
  • The Thunder have won five consecutive first round Game 1s. Their last loss: 2010 vs. Lakers.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • Tonight’s game is available on TNT as well.

LAST GAME LOSS TO NUGGETS

  • Recap
  • Five Thunder players scored in double figures as the Thunder fell to Denver.
  • Oklahoma City held the Nuggets to only 28 percent from three-point range.
  • Russell Westbrook only played 18 minutes and scored only five points.
  • Every Thunder player who played scored at least two points.

SCOUTING THE ROCKETS

  • The Houston Rockets finished the regular season 55-27 overall and third in the Western Conference.
  • The Rockets are 5-5 in their last 10 games.
  • Houston beat the Thunder 3-1 in their regular season head-to-head games.
  • Oklahoma City are 14-19 all-time against the Houston Rockets in the Oklahoma City era.
  • The Thunder are 4-12 at the Toyota Center since relocation.
  • Since the trade of James Harden, Houston leads Oklahoma City 10-8.
  • Sam Dekker (wrist) is out until May 12.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Houston came on Dec. 29, 2013, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 117-86 (31-point margin of victory).
  • Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (12 points) against the Rockets occurred during a 137-125 loss on March 26, 2017.

HOUSTON FACTS

  • The Rockets were founded in 1967 in San Diego.
  • The franchise chose the name “Rockets”, which paid homage to San Diego’s theme of “a city in motion” and the local arm of General Dynamics developing the Atlas missile and booster rocket program.
  • Because of the low performance and attendance, Robert Breitbard sold the time to Texas Sports Investments in 1971 bought the franchise for $5.6 million, and moved the team to Houston. The franchise became the first NBA team in Texas and the nickname “Rockets” took on even greater relevance after the move, given Houston’s long connection to the space industry.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK TRIP-DUBS

  • Russell Westbrook has 79 career triple-doubles, that’s for fourth all-time.
  • 27 of the 79 are against Houston, Orlando, Washington, Minnesota, Denver, and Philadelphia. He has four against each team.
  • Westbrook has recorded three of his 42 triple doubles vs Denver this season.
  • Westbrook is fourth all-time in triple-doubles.

ALL-TIME TRIPLE-DOUBLE LIST

Rank Name Triple-doubles
1 Oscar Robertson 181
2 Magic Johnson 138
3 Jason Kidd 108
4 Russell Westbrook 79

INJURY REPORT

  • Oklahoma City is relatively healthy

PLAYOFF BOUND

  • After finishing the regular season with a record of 47-35 (second in the Northwest Division), the Thunder is set to advance to the postseason for a seventh time in the past eight years.
  • With their 41st win of the season on March 22 vs. Philadelphia, the Thunder assured themselves of an eighth straight season with a .500 or better record. OKC is one of three teams (Houston and San Antonio) to maintain a .500 or better record in each of the last eight seasons.
  • Through the first 22 games this year the Thunder posted a record of 14-8, which equaled the start for Oklahoma City during the 2015-16 season.
  • Additionally, OKC tipped off this past season with a 6-1 record, which represented the best start in Thunder history through seven games.
  • The Thunder and Rockets are set to face one another for a second time in the postseason. During the opening round of the 2013 playoffs, the Thunder defeated the Rockets 4-2.

BOARDS ARE THE BAROMETER

  • The Thunder finished the 2016-17 season as the leading rebounding team in the NBA (46.6 RPG).
  • Additionally, the Thunder led the league with respect to points in the paint (49.9 per game).
  • OKC finished the season going 12-2 when scoring 60+ points in the paint and 20-3 when outrebounding the opposition by 10 or more.

ABRINES SETS THUNDER RECORD

  • After connecting on three made 3-point field goals in the regular season finale on April 12, Alex Abrines set a Thunder rookie franchise record by making 94 3-point field goals during the 2016-17 season (James Harden owned the previous rookie record with 93 made 3- point FGs).
  • Abrines finished the season shooting .381 percent from behind the three point arc (6th best among NBA rookies).

POSTSEASON SUCCESS

  • After defeating the Spurs in the Conference Semifinals during the 2016 playoffs, the Thunder has now won 10 playoff series in the last five postseasons.
  • Only the Miami Heat (15) has won more postseason series during this span (San Antonio has also won 10 playoff series).

STASH BROTHERS

  • During this past season, Steven Adams (11.3 ppg) and Enes Kanter (14.3 ppg) have combined to average 25.6 points per game while scoring at a very effective clip.
  • Both Adams (ranks 7th; .571) and Kanter (ranks 11th; .545) ranked among league leaders in field goal shooting percentage.
  • Kanter was one of only two players (Zach Randolph) to come off the bench this season (min. 50 games) and average 14+ points and 6+ rebounds and his Player Efficiency Rating (PER) ranked 19th best in the NBA.
  • Adams finished with a career-best 16 double-doubles and Kanter posted 18 double-doubles on the year (second most in the NBA for a non-starter).

IN THE WINS

  • In the Thunder’s 47 wins this season, the Thunder is outscored the opposition by a 110.5 to 100.1 margin.
  • In those games, OKC is limited the opposition to just 43.2% shooting.
  • The Thunder went 23-3 this season when holding the opponent to fewer than 100 points.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Slow down the Rockets

Houston is fourth in the NBA in fast break points. Their ability to get out on the break and create easy shots for themselves is quite good. Oklahoma City will try to slow them down while trying to speed themselves up. If Oklahoma City can limit the Rockets, they can steal Game 1.

Thunder moneyball

Oklahoma City struggled in their last loss to Houston from deep. The Thunder need to find a way to hit the three tonight. With the youth Oklahoma City has, they’re going to need the three-point range. In their lone win against Houston, Oklahoma City hit 12 three-pointers. They’ll need to do that again or something similar.

Westbrook’s efficiency

Russ is going to take a lot of shots and he’s going to do it his way. However, the Thunder need Russ to do it efficiently and in control. When he gets out of control, this team can spiral at times. If Westbrook is controlling the game, Oklahoma City will win this game.

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