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 Dennis Schroder (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Keys to the game:

A key for the OKC Thunder will be their ability to score fluidly but also stay committed on the defensive end which they have been doing a great job of as of late. A big reason for this is the dangerous walking bucket that is James Harden.

The Rockets are 24th in the league for opponents points off their turnovers with 18.3 and they concede an average of 16.4 points on fast break plays. Based on how OKC is playing, they look more than capable of exploiting this.

As for the Houston Rockets they will need to keep a watchful eye on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who is a creative scorer. OKC is proving that they can punish opponents when they are looking to get points after a Thunder possession. This is one of the things they do well as they give up 11.1 fast break points per game which is the least in the league.

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One key matchup will be Paul against Westbrook. The pair are different types of players, one takes time to ease himself into the game while the other thrives off pace. Either way, they both are remarkable talents.

The last time their teams met, Westbrook won the all-round battle but Paul is playing like an All-Star and looks like nothing can stop him. So it will be exciting to see how this matchup goes.

Rockets’ big man Clint Capela said he’s been watching film of Thunder center Steven Adams during his playing days with Westbrook. Adams has acted as a model in a way as Capela is learning how to adapt to Westbrook’s game. This matchup will see them both meet at the summit, challenging each other in the paint.

Another key to this game will be bench scoring. The Thunder has so much depth within their bench contributing 38.7 of their points per night. The Rockets do have some prominent back-up scorers but they play the least number of minutes per game in the NBA. So Dennis Schroder will look to take charge in this battle.