NBA Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Thunder vs. Rockets Game 7 (Wednesday, Sept. 2)
NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder, James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets.
- The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder face off at 9 p.m. ET in Orlando with a spot in the Western Conference semifinals on the line.
- The Rockets are favored, but anything can happen in a Game 7 and Raheem Palmer has no interest in picking a side Wednesday night.
- Check out Palmer's full preview below and find out how he's betting Thunder vs. Rockets Game 7.
Thunder vs. Rockets Game 7 Betting Odds
|Thunder Odds||+5.5 [BET NOW]|
|Rockets Odds||-5.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+164/-198 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||217.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
The two greatest words in sports are “Game 7.” How we got here is a story for the ages.
When the Houston Rockets traded Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook in the 2019 offseason, the message was sent: Paul is past his prime and Westbrook is the better option. One thing is certain, this series should erase any doubts about Paul’s ability to play at a star level. While Oklahoma City has been overmatched for large parts of this series, Paul led an improbable Game 6 comeback to stave off elimination.
Now, the series is tied 3-3 and anything can happen.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The story of the Thunder’s season has been their clutch play and it was on full display in Game 6. Paul scored 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and made all the necessary plays to keep Oklahoma City’s season alive. Down six with 4:19 to go, Paul made back-to-back step-back 3s to tie the game. Given the amount of time left, if he misses just one of those shots it’s likely that Oklahoma City loses.
Instead, a six-point deficit turned into another clutch win, which is far from a surprise for a team that was 30-15 in clutch games in the regular season and 3-0 in this series. One thing is certain, if Game 7 comes down to the last five minutes and the point differential is five or fewer, the Thunder have the edge.
Although the Thunder certainly have the advantage when it comes to clutch play, if there’s anything that would hurt Oklahoma City’s chances at advancing it’s the offense. Oklahoma City’s defense has been solid, keeping Houston off the free throw line and limited in transition points, however, its inability to score consistently has been its Achilles’ heel.
The biggest issue with the Thunder is Billy Donovan’s insistence on playing both Lu Dort and Steven Adams at the same time. Per NBA.com’s two-man lineup data, Dort and Adams played 12 minutes together in Game 6 and finished with a net rating of -22.6.
While they’re certainly defending well given the 89.3 defensive rating, the Thunder are scoring only 66.7 points per 100 possessions with this unit on the floor. With Donovan starting this lineup, he’s essentially putting the Thunder in a hole every game.
With 4:19 left in Game 6, the Rockets had the Thunder on the ropes. After a James Harden 3-pointer and Paul’s technical foul for complaining over a Dennis Schroder charge, OKC looked all but done. It felt like we could give it a standing eight count … until Houston’s turnover issues.
The Rockets had 22 turnovers in Game 6, which is the most they’ve had this entire series. Westbrook has been working his way back from a quad injury at the least ideal time.
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Unlike Oklahoma City, which has been masterful in the clutch, the Rockets had four turnovers in the clutch and Westbrook had two of his game-high seven turnovers with less than 1:42 to go. The dagger was when Westbrook threw an errant pass to Robert Covington, turning the ball over with 13.1 seconds remaining and the Rockets down two.
Given the Rockets’ talent on offense they should win this series, but they aren’t going to if they continue to beat themselves. One of the most telling factors about this series is that the Rockets’ three wins have come by 15, 13 and 34 points, while their losses have been in close games that were there for the taking, but they couldn’t take advantage.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The way this series has gone I have no interest in playing a side. Even when Houston has control of a game, it struggles to finish. It had the ball up two with 24 seconds left in Game 3, but Mike D’Antoni didn’t call a timeout. That decision led to a turnover, and a subsequent Oklahoma City 3-pointer to take the lead. Typically that scenario should have ended with Houston getting fouled and shooting free throws for the cover.
Game 6 and the decision to play Westbrook in the clutch as he’s coming off an injury was even more mind-boggling. Houston is the better team, but through six games that really hasn’t mattered. All things considered, this series could have been over multiple times.
There is another angle, however. As we saw in Jazz-Nuggets Game 7, winner-take-all games are ugly. The intensity, the nerves, the length of the series and the familiarity with your opponent after playing six games doesn’t make for a high-scoring, run-and-gun affair.
This same Rockets team once missed 27 straight 3s in a Game 7 and it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw Houston end up on the wrong side of 3-point variance in this game as well. Throughout this series, Houston is getting to the line and scoring in transition far less than its season averages.
As far as Oklahoma City, it has continued to play Dort and Adams together which has made its offense easier to defend.
Oddsmakers opened this total at 221.5, which is lower than we’ve seen throughout this series, and it has since been bet down to 217.5. Although a lot of the value has been soaked out of the number, I think you can still feel comfortable with under tickets in your pocket, both first half and full game.
Picks: First-half under 110.5; Full-game under 217.5 [Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]