NBA Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Rockets vs. Thunder Game 6 (Monday, Aug. 31)
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook.
Rockets vs. Thunder Odds
|Rockets Odds||-5.5 [BET NOW]|
|Thunder Odds||+5.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-240/+198 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||226 [BET NOW]|
|Time||9:10 p.m. ET|
The Houston Rockets moved one step closer to advancing to the second round of the playoffs with a 114-80 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder Saturday night.
Oddsmakers have set the Houston Rockets as 5.5-point favorites in Game 6 with an over/under of 226.
Can Oklahoma City stave off elimination to avoid their fourth consecutive first-round exit? Or will Houston advance to the Western Conference semifinals to face the Los Angeles Lakers?
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Russell Westbrook returned to the lineup in Game 6 after missing the past two weeks with a quad injury, but he hardly looked like himself. Although he finished 3-for-13 from the field with seven assists and six rebounds, his presence certainly made an impact on the Rockets.
Although Luguentz Dort did a solid job at defending James Harden at the start of this series, he’s seen his defensive rating and net rating decline since his first appearance in Game 2. Harden provided 31 points, five assists and two rebounds on 11-of-14 shooting in 28 minutes which has shown us that Dort isn’t making the impact he was initially. The Rockets got a typical performance as far as three-point variance, shooting 19-48 from three-point range (39.6%) and Robert Covington went 6-for-11 from behind the arc.
The story of this game was the Houston defense. Although Dort’s presence made things easier, they did a solid job at defending isolations and daring Oklahoma City to beat them from behind the arc.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City’s offense simply isn’t giving them a fighting shot in this series. The story going into Game 5 was Dort’s defense on Harden. In Game 5, the Rockets essentially made Dort unplayable because of his inability to contribute to the offense. The Rockets completely ignored Dort, packed the paint, took away driving lanes, leaving the Thunder to effectively play 4-on-5 on the offensive end of the floor. Dort finished 3-of-16 from the field and was 0-9 from three point range. In addition, The Rockets let the Thunder fire away from behind the arc and they finished shooting 7-46 (15.2%) which is the worst mark in NBA playoff history.
Oklahoma City’s starting lineup with Dort, Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played 11 minutes together and had an offensive rating of 62.5 with a net rating of -79.2. It was a perfect storm of bad play from Oklahoma City’s starters as Gilgeous-Alexander and Gallinari contributed a combined five points on 2-for-13 shooting and the Thunder as a team shot just 31.5% from the field.
I incorrectly made the assumption that Thunder head coach Billy Donovan would ditch or drastically limit lineups with Steven Adams based on their performance during this series. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. The Thunder have an offensive rating of 97.4 and a net rating of -16.2 with Adams on the floor in this series and yet he’s still averaging 29 minutes per game and starting.
The Thunder are effectively spotting the Rockets points by starting Adams as they’ve lost the first quarter in all five games this series. The combination of Dort and Adams has been disastrous for the Thunder as they’ve made it easier for the Rockets to defend with two non shooters on the floor. After being down just three points at halftime, they scored just 18 points in the third quarter and a Rockets’ 19-2 run after halftime effectively ended the game.
Unfortunately, Oklahoma City is fighting an uphill battle. Dort is on the floor to defend James Harden and Steven Adams should provide rim protection but it’s clear their presence isn’t making much of a difference defensively. How Oklahoma City balances defending this Rockets team and scoring will determine if this series goes to Game 7 or they’ll be leaving the bubble.
Although this line is a bit high for my liking, I see no reason to pick against the Houston Rockets in this spot. With the Thunder spotting the Rockets a lead in every single game by playing Adams and Dort, it feels as if the Oklahoma City Thunder are drawing dead.
How do the Thunder balance defending James Harden with actually scoring on offense? Through five games Billy Donovan has shown us that he’s going to play Adams 25 + minutes even if that hurts Oklahoma City’s offense.
It took the Rockets shooting 30% from behind the arc in game 3 as well as an inbound turnover for Oklahoma City to get the win in game 3. It also took the Rockets going 4-19 from three point range in the 4th quarter of game 4 for the Oklahoma to win by 3. It’s evident, that the path to Oklahoma City winning is banking on bad shooting nights from the Rockets. With the Rockets making Dort unplayable and Oklahoma City not having any answers, this series should end tonight.
The Pick: Rockets -5.5