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Thunder vs. Rockets Game 5 Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions (Saturday, Aug. 29)

Thunder vs. Rockets Game 5 Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions (Saturday, Aug. 29) article feature image

Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets.

  • The Rockets battle the Thunder in Game 5 of their series after a few days off.
  • Raheem Palmer is expecting the scoreboard to be lit up in the return of the two teams.
  • Check out Palmer's full preview with updated odds, picks, and predictions for Game 5 of the series.

Thunder vs. Rockets Game 5 Betting Odds

Thunder Odds +5.5 [BET NOW]
Rockets Odds -5.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +165/-235  [BET NOW]
Over/Under +226.5 [BET NOW]
Time 6:30 p.m. ET

Odds as of Friday evening and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

Don’t call it a comeback!

After making eight consecutive 3-pointers and opening up a 15-point lead to the start the third quarter of Game 4, the Houston Rockets looked poised to go up 3-1 and put the Oklahoma City Thunder on the brink of elimination. But the Rockets went cold, (4-of-19 from deep down the stretch) and the Thunder held on to win 117-114.

Russell Westbrook is now slated to return after missing the entire series with a quad injury and the Thunder have to adjust to a different incarnation of this Rockets team.

Can Westbrook stop the bleeding and give the Rockets the lead in this series?

Oklahoma City Thunder

Billy Donovan and the Thunder have finally adjusted to the Rockets’ small-ball lineups and realized they can beat them at their own game.

Despite OKC’s size advantage, Steven Adams has been unplayable in this series. As I mentioned in the Game 3 breakdown, the Thunder have been outscored by 13.4 points per 100 possessions with Adams on the floor, and are scoring 0.992 points per possession. After averaging 30 minutes per game in Games 1-3, Adams played a series-low 26 minutes in Game 4, including just 2:30 in the fourth quarter.

Although the Thunder are aren’t playing small-ball the entire game, their lineup with Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder, Lu Dort and Danilo Gallinari has worked wonders for their offense. With all the newly-found spacing without Adams on the court, Rockets defenders can’t consistently stay in front of the Thunder guards when they’re going downhill.

OKC is getting whatever it wants on offense. Schroder, Paul and Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30, 26 and 18 points respectively, which illustrates the Rockets’ struggles to defend them over the past two games. With Dort providing solid defense on Harden and the Thunder guards getting to the rim at will, OKC has given themselves a fighting chance to win this series.

Houston Rockets

It goes without saying that the NBA is a make-or-miss league. However, no team is defined by 3-point variance as much as the Houston Rockets.

When the Rockets started the second half perfect from 3, it seemed like they would cruise to a win. But much like Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals — in which the Rockets missed 27 straight 3s — variance turned against them.

Houston shot 5-for-26 the rest of the game including 4-for-19 in the fourth quarter — and one of those made 3s was a Daniel House heave at the buzzer. The Rockets finished with 35 missed 3-pointers, which is tied fourth-highest mark in playoff history.

Most 3-point misses by a team in a playoff game:

37 — Rockets
37 — Rockets
36 — Rockets
35 — Rockets (Game 3 vs OKC)
35 — Rockets (today)

— StatMuse (@statmuse) August 24, 2020

While the Rockets’ high-variance style makes them a dark horse contender, it’s also what kills them when variance isn’t on their side. Live by the 3, die by the 3.

This is where the Rockets missed Westbrook. Although the On/Off numbers suggest that Westbrook’s absence is of negligible consequence, there’a a lot to be said about having a balanced attack. Westbrook enables the Rockets to get easy baskets in transition, which is something they haven’t done well during their losses.

The Rockets averaged 12.5 fast break points in Games 1 and 2 — they have scored 14 total over the past two games. With Westbrook returning to the lineup in Game 5 we expect that to change.

In addition, Houston has not gotten to the free throw line as frequently as it normally does. The Rockets only attempted 10 team free throws in Game 4, which is less than what Harden averages for the season (11.8). If the Rockets hope to win this series, they have to rely on more than just 3-point variance to be on their side.

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Betting Analysis

The four day break in between Games 4 and 5 could be a factor for the Rockets. Harden has been known to wear down towards the end of past playoff series and D’Antoni has been notorious for playing his starters heavy minutes. For a small-ball team that puts an emphasis on 3-point shooting and is playing against bigs like Adams and Nerlens Noel, fatigue was always going to be a factor.

Fortunately for the Rockets will welcome back Westbrook, which should make it easier for them to get transition baskets and get to the line. Westbrook’s return also allows Eric Gordon to resume the role of sixth man, giving the Rockets more offense off the bench.

On the surface, things point towards the Rockets in this matchup, however the current line of -5.5 feels high. This line seems to suggest that Westbrook is worth two points to the spread and I’m not sure that’s true. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Rockets are -0.9 with Westbrook on the floor.

It’s tough to drop any player in the middle of a playoff series after being off two weeks and expect an optimal performance. With the On/Off numbers suggesting that his impact is negligible, I believe there’s value on the Thunder at +5 or better.

The real value in this matchup lies in the total. With Westbrook on the floor the Rockets play at a pace of 107.33 possessions compared to 104.4 with him off. With the Thunder going small, the pace has increased and they’ve made strides offensively. I expect this trend to continue. I expect Houston to make a more concerted effort to get to the foul line, and if the Rockets shoot a normal percentage from 3, then I think this goes over the total.

The Pick: Over 226.5

[Bet Thunder-Rockets now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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