NBA Odds, Picks & Betting Predictions: Rockets vs. Thunder Game 4 (Aug. 24)

Credit:

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden (right) guarded by Luguentz Dort.

Rockets vs. Thunder Betting Odds

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Rockets Odds -3 [BET NOW]
Thunder Odds +3 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -160/+130 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 220.5 [BET NOW]
Time 4 p.m. ET
TV TNT

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After double-digit losses in the first two games and a 5-point deficit with 59.7 seconds to go in Game 3, this series looked all but over for the Thunder.Faced with the prospect of going down 3-0, Oklahoma City rallied to keep its playoff hopes alive with a clutch play down the stretch and a 119-107 win in overtime to make the series 2-1.

Now we have a series. Will Oklahoma City keep the momentum going, or will Houston exert its dominance on the way to a 3-1 lead? Let’s break it down.

Houston Rockets

Through the lens of the Houston Rockets, this series should be 3-0 on the verge of being over. They held a two point lead with 24 seconds to go, only needing an inbounds pass and two free throws to seal it and turned it over, giving the Thunder the chance to take the league on a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander three pointer. Danuel House had an opportunity to ice it before making one out of two free throws, sending the game into overtime where the Rockets eventually lost, 119-107.

The Rockets didn’t shoot well in Game 3, shooting 41.3% from the field and 15-of-50 — just 30% — from 3-point range. With Rockets games, 3-point variance always plays a huge role in the outcome of the game and they certainly weren’t on the right side of it Saturday night. After putting up 63 points in the first half, the Rockets only scored 44 in the second and overtime combined.

Although the Rockets bench has been an edge for them in this series, outside of Jeff Green, who provided 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists, they didn’t get the same production they’ve gotten throughout this series.

In addition, the starters struggled. Robert Covington only played 19 minutes as he struggled with foul trouble, and Eric Gordon provided an inefficient 18 points on 8-for-24 shooting, including 2-for-10 from 3-point range. Harden provided 38 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds, but he was just 3-of-13 from 3.

In spite of that, the Rockets had control of this game going into the final seconds and it took a meltdown in regulation and six personal fouls from Harden for them to lose in overtime. 

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Oklahoma City Thunder

Saturday night’s Game 3 win was a continuation of the extraordinary clutch play we’ve seen all season from the Oklahoma City Thunder. NBA.com defines clutch situations as any game with a differential of 5 points or fewer in the last five minutes of a game. The Thunder have a league-leading 30-14 record in clutch wins with a Net Rating of +24.4 fueled by an Offensive Rating of 121.9 and a Defensive Rating of 97.5.

A big part of that is the three-guard lineup of Chis Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder, along with Danilo Gallinari, continues to be one of the best lineups in the league. Oklahoma City got balanced production from them with Gilgeous-Alexander putting up 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and four steals, Gallinari putting up 20 points, seven rebounds and one assist, and Schroder putting up 29 points, five assists and five rebounds off the bench.

CP3 redeemed himself by having his best game of the series with 26 points, six rebounds and five assists after an embarrassing Game 2 performance in which he had a plus-minus of -36 in 36 minutes on the floor. He had his most efficient game, shooting 11-of-20 from the field as well as 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Although I’ve spoken in detail about Chris Paul struggling with switching defenses this season, Oklahoma City will certainly need him to play like a star in order for them to have a chance in this series.

The emergence of Luguentz Dort on the defensive end of the floor has been a game-changer. After limiting Harden to 21 points on 5-of-16 shooting in Game 2, Dort made life tough for him again in Game 3. Although Harden finished with 38 points, he was held to 12-of-27 shooting, including 3-of-13 from 3-point range. In addition, although the Rockets have had a team-wide Offensive Rating of 112.9 during this series, they’ve only had an Offensive Rating of 105 with Dort on the floor. There’s no way to stop Harden and this Rockets offense, but having Dort in the floor after missing Game 1 has certainly changed this series.

Steven Adams was missing down the stretch of this game, and it became clear that’s he’s a liability against Houston’s small-ball lineup. During this series, Oklahoma City is being outscored by 13.4 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and they have an offensive rating of 92.8 and a defensive rating of 106.2. Although Adams provides a size advantage and plays a part in OKC having a 17.5% ORB in this series as well as providing a rim protector, it’s evident OKC struggles to score when he’s in the game. If Billy Donovan is stubborn about his minutes and refuses to go small, this could certainly be the difference in the series.

Betting Analysis & Pick

The Rockets had seven turnovers in Games 1 and 2 and 16 in Game 3. In addition, the Rockets shot 37% from 3 in Game 1, 34% in Game 2 and 30% in Game 3. What we’re seeing is that the Thunder have to force turnovers and the Rockets have to shoot below expectation for the game to simply be close. Based on Game 3, they also need foul trouble from Harden and Covington.

It’s increasingly evident that the Thunder are punching out of their weight class and can’t match point for point with the Rockets. That said, you have to wonder if all of this basketball is catching up to Houston. They’ve seen shooting percentages decline the past three games and playing every other day can’t be ideal for a team that is shooting as many 3s as they are.

The pace of these games isn’t particularly fast without Russell Westbrook. Both Harden and Paul tend to hold the ball longer than most.  The pace of these games were 98, 91, and 102 (with Game 3 including overtime).

At any given time, OKC will have two non-shooters on the floor with Dort and Adams, which will make it tough for the Thunder to score consistently.

I think we’re trending towards lower-scoring games in this series.

The Pick: Under 220.5

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