HOUSTON LEADS SERIES 2-1
Sunday, April 23 :: 2:30 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV: ABC (5 DirecTV, 8 Cox, 705 HD, 5 AT&T U-Verse, 5 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 1½-point favorite. O/U is 224
Notes: Thunder: here | Rockets: here
SETTING THE SCENE
- Oklahoma City showed the league they’re not done yet. They’ll need another performance like that if they’re going to even this series.
- The Thunder are 3-0 in Game 4s all-time when they’ve fallen down 2-0.
- Outside of Game 1, Games 2 and 3 have been relatively competitive and high intensity. Expect the same thing this afternoon.
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).
- Today’s game is available on ABC as well.
SCOUTING THE ROCKETS
- The Houston Rockets finished the regular season 55-27 overall and third in the Western Conference.
- Houston leads the series 2-1
- 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 5-4 all-time against the Rockets in the playoffs.
- The Thunder are 4-0 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
- 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
- Oklahoma City is relatively healthy
- 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).
- 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).
- 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
Oklahoma City’s bench showed up and did big things with the their performances. They scored 35 points on 13-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-12 from three. If the Thunder are going to win this game, they’ll need another quality bench performance from everyone.
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 Game 3, the bigs showed up and it was really a big advantage once again for Oklahoma City. Game 4 cannot be any different.
There is a pattern that’s formed over the first five games. Oklahoma City jumps out to an early first quarter lead, the Rockets close strong. The Rockets have closed leads in Games 2 and 3 at the end of every quarter. In quarters 1 & 3, it makes sense as the Thunder are resting Russell Westbrook. The struggles at the end of quarters 2 & 4 need a lot of improvement. Finish quarters an you’ll finish the game with a win.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!