A major player is missing for the big reunion game going down in August 18th Thunder vs. Rockets betting. Russell Westbrook (quad) will miss the big matchup vs. his old team Oklahoma City and could be out for the better part of this series. Chris Paul will take the court against the Rockets however, a team with whom he spent 2017-2019.
Oddsmakers are still expecting a close matchup in game one, listing the Rockets as just +1.5 underdogs Tuesday night. The total is 224.5 in a classic meeting of Houston’s #2 scoring offense and the #7 scoring defense of the Thunder.
Can Oklahoma City Capitalize on Height Advantage?
The Rockets have altered their approach with the trade of big man Clint Capela and now employ a small-ball approach on both ends of the court. That has left 6’5″ PJ Tucker and 6’7″ Robert Covington splitting time at the center position. Houston has thrived on a newfound physicality, but is that playing right into the hands of Oklahoma City’s 6’11”, 265 pound center Steven Adams?
Adams is a mountain of a presence in the middle that should dominate against the Rockets’ 17th ranked rebounding unit. 6’10” Nerlens Noel and emerging PF, 6’8″ Darius Bazley, give Oklahoma City a sizeable length advantage. OKC has taken two of three during the regular season, but all were before the Capela trade.
OKC is also hit a bit by the injury bug heading into August 18th Thunder vs. Rockets betting. Paul will play through a left hand sprain but the Thunder will be without what has become their best defender in Luguentz Dort. The rookie was set to guard Harden and held him to 1-17 from three point range in January. Andre Roberson’s return in the restart could be a huge asset for the OKC defense this series.
Can Harden Get Some Help Here
James Harden will likely be his usual great self in August 18th Thunder vs. Rockets betting. The big question is whether that will be enough? Harden had 27 points and 10 assists in limited minutes his last game in the bubble and put up 45 points and 17 assists vs. Indiana last Wednesday. Harden had just 17 and 29 points in his last two vs. Oklahoma City.
The Thunder have a balanced scoring attack led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (19), Dennis Schroder (18.9), Danilo Gallinari (18.7), and Chris Paul (17.6). It’s going to be hard for the Rockets to match that scoring beyond Harden. Ben McLemore is the only starter to score more than 17 points the last five games of the restart, although Austin Rivers did add 41 off the bench two weeks ago.
August 18th Thunder vs. Rockets Betting Pick
The Thunder would seem like the play on Tuesday afternoon as the Rockets move forward without Westbrook for the time being. OKC is a much deeper team and has a considerable size advantage especially with the emergence of Bazley, the rookie who has 21+ points and 7+rebounds in 3 of the last 4 in the bubble. Paul also has motivation against the team who traded him to bring in a ‘superstar to pair with Harden.’
Pick: Thunder -1.5