Rockets vs. Thunder first-round playoff preview

Rockets vs. Thunder first-round playoff preview

But because you didn't elect me, I don't have to defend my votes. Taj Gibson has looked good in his 23 games for his new team while Domantas Sabonis and Jerami Grant showed promising signs late in the season but we all know that the Thunder's playoff hopes lay heavily on the capable shoulders of Westbrook. But in all seriousness, that stat-line is absurd. We'll likely get it as much as we got with LeBron James and Derrick Rose in 2011. OKC lost in both of its two regular-season dates at Houston. Houston also beat Oklahoma City three out of four times in the regular season. Aside from occasional props for San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard, Harden is the only one. They have shown that they can - they have a team that can adjust to play against nearly anybody. He has improved his offensive game to the point where not only is he one of the most clutch performers in the entire league, but he is also someone that can score in any way and attack you from any angle on the offensive end. Isaiah Thomas is a horrific defender but he'll run circles around Rajon Rondo, who can't in turn punish him on the other end.

Beverley isn't a well-known name, yet the 28-year-old guard averaged 9.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game during the regular season, with the Rockets seeing their net rating jump from plus-3.4 to plus-7.3 when Beverley was on the court.

Rockets and Thunder have their MVP candidates battle it out during prime time in Houston. A recipe for quite the interesting season was brewing in Houston. Should Houston take care of business from deep, that alone may bury the lower-seeded team in this series. If Harden doesn't get Roberson into foul trouble early, he risks having to deal with the quick reactions and length all night.

How did Harden and company respond?

Sitting on the other bench and welcoming the challenge is the league's fastest guard in Westbrook.

Bayern blasts referee after Champions League loss to Madrid
Vidal said: "It is very tough when they steal a game from you like that - two goals offside and me wrongly sent off". Much like the first leg, Madrid weathered the early storm and had plenty of chances to go in front before half time.

The Thunder may not be the championship contenders they once were, but an angry, chip-carrying Russell Westbrook can never be written off.

"It's still the intensity [of the playoffs], you have to play hard but play smart as well", Harden said. In fact, the Beard just finished what was arguably the greatest offensive season of all time. "He dominates the ball, closing in on a 30 percent usage rate while rarely turning the ball over and posting a 61 percent true shooting percentage". Thunder forward Andre Roberson largely stymied Harden, limiting him to 20.5 points (with a 48.3 true shooting percentage), 7.3 rebounds and 12.3 assists per game. Considering the league's reluctance to give the MVP to a player on a team without even 50 wins, Westbrook should not get this award. He is the second player in National Basketball Association history to average a triple-double over the course of an entire season. Instead, Westbrook arguably single-handedly lead the Thunder to the postseason as the 6th seed, facing off against James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the first round.

There are four players and one question at hand here. It was proof the MVP was given in mistake, despite a difference of 15 wins between the two candidates that season.

The Rockets had the third-best record in the National Basketball Association and are eyeing a deep playoff run in their first season under D'Antoni after being ousted in the first round by Golden State a year ago. There are usually multiple players who could make a strong case for being deserving of the award.

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