Las Vegas Odds & Liev Jackson NBA Playoff Expert Picks: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets
Sunday, April 16, 2017
by Liev Jackson

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets

Las Vegas Odds & Liev Jackson NBA Playoff Expert Picks: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets

Thunder: 0-0 (0-0 V)
Rockets: 0-0 (0-0 H)
When: 9:00 PM ET, Sunday, April 16, 2017
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
TV: TNT, FSN Oklahoma, ROOT

The marquee matchup of round one features the two favorites to win the league’s MVP in one of the most exciting races for the individual award in recent history.

The narrative all along has been that Russell Westbrook put in one of the most memorable seasons in the history of the league. In averaging a triple-double (31.6 PPG-10.7 RPG-10.4 APG) and getting one in 42 games, he joined the legendary Oscar Robertson for the season average and then even broke his record for total triple-doubles in a season. He willed the Thunder to victory at least a dozen times and saved his best for last, with multiple memorable games over the final two weeks of the season.

But in order to do that he was the focal point of the offense, quite possibly the biggest ball hog in the history of the league on a team that actually features a solid collection of talent, including center Steven Adams, small forward Andre Robertson, power forward Enes Kanter and shooting guard Victor Oladipo.

In fact, after last year’s playoffs where they almost knocked off the Warriors, there was much talk about Robertson and Adams taking a leap forward this year, but it never happened in part because of how the offense flowed through Westbrook.

Meanwhile a year ago, the Rockets were flaming out of the playoffs as the James Harden, Dwight Howard duo imploded. In came Mike D ’Antoni whose glory days with Phoenix seemed far behind him after unsuccessful stops with the Lakers and Knicks to try and fix a very broken situation.

The start of the season, most people predicted Houston would barely finish above .500. Instead with Harden (29.1 PPG, 11.2 APG 8.1 RPG) converted into a point guard the team would up with 55 wins, the three seed and just turned in one of the top ten offensive seasons in the history of the league.

Harden’s cast of teammates don’t seem any more talented than the Thunder’s but he’s found a way to elevate their games. As such Eric Gordon is likely to win the sixth man of the year award unless his teammate Lou Williams gets it. And ten players averaged at least nine PPG. Clint Capela at center had a career year and Nene played better than he has in years.

OKC finished 11th averaging 106.6 PPG and 16th allowing 105.8 PPG.

Houston finished 2nd averaging 115.3 PPG and 29th allowing 109.6 PPG.

BetOnline Sportsbook has the Rockets listed as 7-point favorites and the game's total is sitting at 227½ according to MyBookie.ag

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets Las Vegas Odds

Gm# Team
Opener
515 Oklahoma City
228
516 Houston
-7
  Moneyline
+252/-310

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The Rockets were a 123-118 winner in their most recent outing at home against the Timberwolves. They failed to cover the -8-point spread as favorites, while the total score (241) made winners of OVER bettors.

Oklahoma City lost its last outing, a 111-105 result against the Nuggets on April 12. The Thunder failed to cover in that game as a -6-point favorite, while the 216 combined points took the game UNDER the total.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets Las Vegas Odds & Trends

Oklahoma City:
Oklahoma City is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
Oklahoma City is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Oklahoma City's last 6 games

Houston:
Houston is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games
Houston is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Houston's last 9 games

The Bottom Line: Houston are -7 favorites, but Harden has been bothered with a wrist injury and Westbrook finished the season on fire. That alone should make for a closer game one than that. The Pick: Thunder 112-110.

Liev Jackson NBA Playoff Expert Picks: Oklahoma City +260 & 227½ Under at Mybookie

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Tags
andre robertson - dwight howard - enes kanter - eric gordon - houston rockets - james harden - lou williams - mike d ’antoni - oklahoma city thunder - oscar robertson

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