Rockets vs. Thunder Game 3 Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions (Saturday, August 22)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets.
Rockets vs. Thunder Betting Odds
|Rockets Odds||-2 [BET NOW]|
|Thunder Odds||+2 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-130/+110 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||222.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||6 p.m. ET|
The Houston Rockets took a commanding 2-0 lead in their first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 111-98 victory on Thursday. So far in this series one becoming clear: Oddsmakers can’t adjust this spread enough. The Rockets open as 3-point favorites in Game 3, up from +1.5 in Game 1 and -2 in Game 2.
Can the Thunder bounce back?
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After playing their best offensive game of the season against any playoff team in Game 1 with a 129 Offensive Rating in the half court, Houston struggled offensively for large parts of Game 2.
James Harden was held in check, scoring 21 points on 5-of-16 from the field and 2-of-11 from three. In addition, after starting the first quarter making 8-of-16 3s, the Rockets went 2-of-19 in the second quarter, including missing 15-straight 3-point attempts in an effort that resembled their 2018 Game 7 matchup against the Golden State Warriors. Harden and Eric Gordon were a combined 2-of-21 from behind the arc with Gordon shooting 0-of-10.
And it still didn’t matter in the end.
The Rockets had seven players score in double figures and their bench continues to be a force in this series. The Rockets’ defense continues to be an unsung hero, challenging everything we thought we knew about them. They held the Thunder to just 39 second-half points, which was ultimately the difference in the game. The Thunder led 80-77 before the Rockets went on a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter, mostly with Harden on the bench.
It remains to be seen if the Rockets’ defense will continue to play as well with Russell Westbrook on the floor, but this team in its current form has proven it can win ugly games when they aren’t scoring as efficiently.
Oklahoma City Thunder
As I mentioned in the Game 2 preview, Chris Paul has seen his points per possession decline against switching defenses over his past four seasons, going from 1.062 PPP in the 2016-17 season to 0.973 PPP in the 2019-2020 season.
Although I had the belief that great players find a way to adjust and that it wouldn’t take him until the second quarter to score his first points, he followed up Game 1 with an even worse performance. Paul was a -36 on the floor Thursday, scoring 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting with two assists and six rebounds. Oklahoma City has no shot if their star point guard can’t give them more.
The Thunder got huge performances from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (he had a playoff career-high 31 points) and Luguentz Dort. According to matchup data from NBA.com, Dort has held Harden to 3-of-20 from the field and 2-of-18 for from behind the arc in two games this season. It’s clear the Thunder have a bright future with Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort, but based on this series, they’ll be looking towards it sooner rather than later.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The Thunder are drawing dead.
First and foremost, they have a math problem. Despite outshooting the Rockets from the field (44.3% – 41.8%), they simply can’t match the Rockets from 3-point range. The Rockets ran under expectation on 3-point field goals in the first half and OKC didn’t have enough offensively to put them away.
In addition, the Thunder have yet to make any adjustments offensively. They continue to stand around and ISO against the Rockets’ switching defense instead of moving the ball, which is playing right into Houston’s hands.
To make matters worse, the Rockets out-rebounded the Thunder 11 to eight on the offensive boards and were almost even in points in the paint (34-36). If the Thunder can’t capitalize on their size advantage, what can they capitalize on?
I see no reason to pick against the Rockets here. OKC got the combination of a bad shooting night from Harden and the Rockets and a peak performance from SGA and still lost by 13. I like the Rockets to put the Thunder on brink of elimination.
Pick: Rockets -2