OKC Thunder face Rockets in Russell Westbrook homecoming: game preview

OKC Thunder (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder welcomes Russell Westbrook back to his old stomping ground as they seek a win over his Houston Rockets. Gameday breaks down the match.

The OKC Thunder prepare to take on the Houston Rockets in what is set to be an emotional home game and get their first victory over their neighbors this season.

There’s no doubt it’s going to be a scintillating spectacle as the two in-form teams take the court. But what everyone is looking forward to is OKC’s beloved former superstar Russell Westbrook returning to where his career began 11 years ago.

It’s going to be a “I”m not crying, you’re crying” type of match for Thunder fans. But as Kelly Clarkson said let those tears fall. Let it all out, show your support for Russ because the truth is even though he’s on the other side, Thunder Nation will always regard him as one of us.

Westbrook is an integral part of who the OKC Thunder are and there is going to be a great build-up to the match. You can imagine there will be major preparations to ensure a special homecoming that he deserves.

This week Westbrook spoke to the media about what it means for him to return to OKC.

If the Thunder are able to get the win, they will tie up the series against the Rockets. OKC currently sits seventh in the West while Houston is third.

The Rockets’ James Harden who also played for the Thunder has been putting up colossal numbers and leads the league in points with 38.4 as well as 3-pointers made per night with 5.2. He will be hard to stop especially if he is taking multiple trips to the free throw line.

Harden is a natural scorer and combined with Westbrook’s high-velocity game they will pose a huge threat. Westbrook is averaging 24.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.0 steals. He has always tried to contribute in all areas so it’s very likely that it will be a marathon for his former teammates who were used to keeping up with him.

However, this is a different Thunder team that may have fallen victim to old habits and static offense when they last met the Rockets in October.

Since that time they have found what works for them, have better decision making and are stronger offensively. They are ninth in the league for field goal percentage and have won six of their last seven games, gaining attention from around the NBA.

They also know how to utilize every player on the team including the young guys such as Darius Bazley and Hamidou Diallo who has come back from injury firing.

When you are also being led by a legend in Chris Paul who is just coming off an extraordinary 20 point fourth quarter and overtime performance against the Brooklyn Nets, you know that you’re in good hands.

With that being said, here are the keys to the game.