MLK Day features OKC Thunder vs reeling Rockets: preview

JANUARY 9: Terrance Ferguson #23 of the OKC Thunder plays defense against the Houston Rockets (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
JANUARY 9: Terrance Ferguson #23 of the OKC Thunder plays defense against the Houston Rockets (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Keys to the game:

The Rockets lead the NBA in 3-point attempts and makes, free throw attempts and makes. All of these are the specialties of Harden. He is yet to let go of the reins of the team so that others can actually help.

The Rockets are also second in the NBA in points, fourth in offensive rebounds and fifth in total rebounds. So what does this all mean? Well, defending the 3-point line is crucial with this team. If they get open they have multiple weapons which can hurt you, Harden is primary amongst them.

Also, defending without fouling, the Billy Donovan mantra, is crucial for beating this team. Harden gets to the line 12.3 times per game. Take away this avenue to the basket and Harden tends to struggle. As we saw the last game against the Rockets, stopping Harden and letting Westbrook get his, is a recipe for success against the Houston.

This means the key matchup for the game is the OKC Thunder defense against James Harden. If Ferguson plays then he will get the main job on The Beard. However, Hamidou Diallo, Deonte Burton, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and even Luguentz Dort will get a turn on the NBA scoring leader.