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Rockets vs Thunder: NBA First-Round Playoff Series Betting Preview

The Houston Rockets (44-28) begin their playoff campaign against the Oklahoma City Thunder (44-28) on the Orlando bubble Tuesday. With identical records going into the playoffs, this will likely be one of the closest first-round playoff series in the Western Conference.

 Don’t miss your chance to bet on the various aspects of this riveting series on our sportsbook where you can find the latest NBA betting lines.

Rockets vs Thunder coming up, on image Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets celebrates with James Harden #13 after defeating the Dallas Mavericks
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

We’ll break down their head-to-head stats, recent play, and key aspects of each team, and also discuss various bets surrounding this series. Be sure to check in for updates on our NBA news page for the most up-to-date information on sportsbook betting as the post-season progresses.

Also check on these NBA betting lines.

As well explore a variety of other NBA odds here to win!

Rockets vs Thunder Series Schedule

  •  Game 1: Tue, Aug 18 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 6:30 ET p.m., TNT
  • Game 2: Thu, Aug 20 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 3:30 ET p.m., ESPN
  • Game 3: Sat, Aug 22 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 6 ET p.m., ESPN
  • Game 4: Mon, Aug 24 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 4 ET p.m., TNT
  • Game 5*: Wed, Aug 26 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, TBD, TBD
  • Game 6*: Fri, Aug 28 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, TBD, TBD
  • Game 7*: Sun, Aug 30 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, TBD, TBD​​​​​​

Rockets vs Thunder Head-to-Head

These teams played three times during the season. Their last matchup was towards the end of January, so it’s been over half a year since they’ve played. Interestingly, it was Oklahoma City that bested Houston, 2-1, during the regular season.

Let’s take a look at how these games ended and also look at the point spread to help you determine how you want to place your bets for this series.

Their first game was on Oct. 28, at the beginning of the season. The odds were set at OKC +10. The Rockets emerged victorious, 116-112. It ended up being a close game.

The second meeting was on Jan. 9. The spread was smaller with OKC +3.5, the smallest of the season between these teams. The Thunder emerged victorious, 113-92.

Their final matchup was just over a week later Jan. 20. The spread was set at OKC +7.5, an interesting move after they dominated the Rockets days before. They once again beat Houston. 112-107, despite once again being the clear underdog.

You can find these stats and more on our matchup tabs on your NBA betting page. There’s all the information you could ever want to place a smart bet on one easy-to-read page. Simply find the game you want to wager on and click on the “matchup” tab under the team totals to access a wide range of stats.  

Rockets vs Thunder In the Bubble

The Rockets ended their bubble campaign at 4-4. Keep in mind that at no time did they have all five of their normal starters for any game in Florida. Even now, Russell Westbrook is slated to sit out the first game of this playoff series due to strained quadriceps.

Not surprisingly, James Harden was looking spry after taking advantage of the season postponement. In Florida, he averaged 35.3 PPG, 9.2 rebounds, and 8.7 assists. He also shot an amazing 53.6% from the field. Houston will be looking to Harden to lead them deep into the playoffs.

The Thunder duplicated their opponents’ record, ending up 4-4 in the bubble. With the addition of Chris Paul (aka CP3), Oklahoma City has established itself as a competitive team in the Western Conference. He led the squad all season and did not disappoint in Florida. His presence on the court and his experience in clutch situations has been noticeable.

 Overall, the Thunder has had moments of greatness in the bubble, namely defeating the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet they lost to the Grizzlies, Wizards, and Suns – all teams they should have been able to handle. We’ll see how they fare now that they are mostly whole and with Westbrook due to make a showing sometime during the series.

Rockets Breakdown

The Rockets have to like their chances. They managed to beat both the LA Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks in the bubble, showing that they are right up there with the most elite teams in the league.

Houston will be anxiously awaiting the return of Westbrook, the league’s leading rebounder in the guard/small forward position. This future Hall of Fame point guard will add much-needed experience and strength down below. Coupled with Harden, this is one of the strongest power duos in the league.

Houston’s biggest challenge is due to its unique setup featuring no center position. The small-lineup approach poses a risk to the glass and it showed in the bubble. The Rockets ended up with the worst rebounding percentage in Florida of any team. If they can figure out a way to be competitive as far as rebounding is concerned, they will be formidable for any team to face.

Thunder Breakdown

Enough can’t be said about the impact CP3 has had. In 70 games, he is averaging 17.6 PPG, 5 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and is shooting 48.9% from the field. As a side note, he is also shooting a whopping 90.7% from the free-throw line. More than the amount he scores, it’s the quality. When games are tight and big plays are needed, his vast experience has proven to be reliable again and again.

One area where Oklahoma City can take advantage of the Rockets will be down low. The Thunder often plays traditional lineups with big men like Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel. We’ll see if they focus on their tall players, and how much their height advantage will help against Houston.

 It will be interesting to see if the Thunder will be able to keep up with the Rockets’ quickness. They are both rated in the top ten NBA defensive teams, but they are mismatched as far as style goes. Will the Rockets’ quickness be too much to handle? We’ll soon find out.

Rockets vs Thunder | NBA Championship Odds

The Houston Rockets came into the season ranked at +700 to win the NBA Championship. It’s a pretty fair betting line and their fourth-place finish in a highly competitive Western Conference reflects that. BetUS is putting them at +1300, showing that perhaps they aren’t quite up to going all the way as they seemed going into the season.

 The Oklahoma City Thunder greatly improved their betting odds over the season but are still nowhere close to the Rockets. They came into the season with the odds set at +25000. Currently, our website has them at +5500 to win it all. It’s a step in the right direction but they are still nowhere close to being a favorite.

Odds to Win Series

For Oklahoma City to have any chance of overtaking the Rockets they will have to take advantage of Russel Westbrook’s injury in the first few games. Overall it seems like a big ask despite their identical records. Still, this is probably the closest NBA betting line for a series win for the entire first round of the playoffs.

 Here are the NBA series odds:

 Oklahoma City Thunder: +130

LA Clippers: -150

 Prediction: Rockets in 7 Games

The Thunder has already proven they can beat the Rockets, twice. Despite their 1-2 series record against them, Houston is looking like the team to beat in this matchup. Oklahoma City will have an advantage early on with Westbrook out for at least the first game or two, but in the end, the Rockets will likely move on to the next round.


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