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Thunder Playoff Game Day #3: vs. Houston Rockets

HOUSTON LEADS SERIES 2-0

Friday, April 21 :: 8:30 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)

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

TV: ESPN (206 Directv, 28 Cox, 720 HD , 602 AT&T U-Verse, 140 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 2½-point favorite. O/U is 224
Notes: Thunder: here | Rockets: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Despite Russell Westbrook’s heroics, the Oklahoma City Thunder are facing a 2-0 deficit hole as they host the Rockets for Game 3 of the series.
  • In their history, this is the fourth time Oklahoma City has faced a 2-0 series hole. The Thunder are 1-2 when they trail 2-0.
  • Oklahoma City is only 5-3 in their last eight playoff home games.
  • Russell Westbrook for everything through two games is averaging 36.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.0 assists per game.

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 ESPN as well.

LAST GAME LOSS TO NUGGETS

  • Recap
  • Oklahoma City only trailed by five points at halftime, but Houston ran away with the game in the second half, scoring 59 points to the Thunder’s 33. In the second half the Houston lead grew to as many as 33 points.
  • Andre Roberson set a playoff career high with 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 35 minutes. Roberson connected on 4-of-6 3-point field goals on the evening.
  • Jerami Grant made his playoff debut, tallying 10 points and five rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench.
  • Russell Westbrook turned in his 29th career playoff double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Oklahoma City outscored Houston on the break, 16-6.

SCOUTING THE ROCKETS

  • The Houston Rockets finished the regular season 55-27 overall and third in the Western Conference.
  • Houston leads the series 2-0.
  • The Rockets are 5-5 in their last 10 games.
  • Houston beat the Thunder 3-1 in their regular season head-to-head games.
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder are 4-4 all-time against the Rockets in the playoffs.
  • The Thunder are 3-0 vs. Houston at home in the playoffs.
  • Oklahoma City in the regular season are 6-3 at home all-time vs. the Rockets with James Harden.
  • Sam Dekker (fractured wrist) is out until May 12.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Houston came on Apr 21, 2013, where Oklahoma City beat Houston 120-91 (29-point margin of victory).
  • Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (12 points) against the Rockets occurred during a 118-87 on April 16, 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

Limit James Harden’s free throws

As with any of the elite scorers in the NBA , which is a category Harden certainly falls under, all that needs to happen in order for them to get hot offensively is seeing the ball go through the hoop. In Harden’s case, game two was a great example of this. Finishing with 35 points on the night, Harden’s performance was boosted primarily by his performance at the charity stripe, finishing 18-of-20 on the night from the line. Keeping Harden off the free throw line is a major key in harnessing his offensive performance in Game 3 for Oklahoma City. Making him earn the majority of his points from the field will be paramount.

Thunder bigs must dominate

Coming into the series, it was apparent Oklahoma City held an obvious advantage in the interior. However, through two games Houston has done a great job of neutralizing the Thunder’s big men, especially Enes Kanter, who has been non-existent. In order to crawl back in this series, Oklahoma City’s front court must take charge Friday night, starting with Steven Adams and Taj Gibson.

Control the tempo

Any Mike D’Antoni coached team is going to look to push the tempo, using fast break opportunities to drive the lane and kick out to open shooters running the floor. Houston came into this series second in the NBA in points per game, scoring at a clip of 115.4 points per game. They also finished fourth in the NBA with 16.9 points per game coming off the fast break. In order for them to win, it’s essential for Oklahoma City to slow the tempo in game three, neutralizing D’Antoni’s free flowing, run-and-gun style of offense.

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