OKC Thunder – Rockets first round series would be drama filled

OKC Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Next up in the 30 for 30 roundtable the T.I. writing team ponders a first-round matchup versus former OKC Thunder superstars and the Houston Rockets.

Imagine a first-round series featuring former OKC Thunder superstars Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Or Chris Paul getting a shot at showing Daryl Morey precisely how effective he still is after being traded this past summer.

The drama would be high with fans witnessing a matchup featuring small ball versus the Clutch Time crew. It would also require some shifts on the ladder, which means the teams would need to play more games prior to the playoffs because they aren’t currently aligned with the Thunder fifth and the Rockets sixth.

To that end, the T.I. writing team dives into what advantages the Thunder would have in this series and conversely where the disadvantages would lie.

With that, I give you question 22 from the series…

Q22:  If the Thunder were to play the Rockets in round one what are their greatest weaknesses and strengths versus Houston?

Shontelle Matano:

One of OKC’s greatest strengths would notably be their length due to the Rockets’ small-ball lineup. Another strength would be the Thunder’s ability to put almost any player on the floor with confidence that they be willing to show up and do their part as they have so much depth. From veteran and leader Chris Paul to rookie Luguentz Dort. Not to mention how clutch they are.

One weakness will be the fact that they are going up against two MVP’s in Russell Westbrook and James Harden. As Thunder Nation is very familiar with, Westbrook is a freight train who will not stop for anyone. He will go hard and take out anyone in his way, even if they are his former team.

If the Thunder played the Rockets in the first round it would be amazing. Two teams with history in the playoffs and the obvious exchange of All-Stars in the offseason, making for an entertaining matchup.

Rylan Stiles:

The OKC Thunder’s greatest strength has to be their size, while Steven Adams has been a no show in the past two postseasons, who on the Rockets is going to contain him? Russell Westbrook?

When Adams leaves the floor, enter in Nerlens Noel. That size will be a huge mismatch if used correctly.

The Thunder biggest weakness is also the fact that Houston plays small ball. How can that be both? Well, the Rockets are one of the teams best equipped to handle a three guard speedy, twitchy lineup that has worked so well for the OKC Thunder thus far this season.

Dustin McGowen:

More from Thunderous Intentions

First of all, I don’t know if my heart could seriously take this. I’m still really freaked out by Russ in a red jersey. Harden vs Chris Paul? It’s just too much.

In all seriousness, I think this would be a great matchup for the Thunder. This OKC team can play physically and a fresh Steven Adams would feast on Houston’s small lineups. CP3 would rise to the challenge and OKC would definitely win in six super-close agonizing games.

If this happens, I’m going to need daily mental health phone calls with Thunder Nation.

Tamberlyn Richardson:

For much of the season, this matchup felt fated. Depending on how the NBA opts to ease teams back (assuming the season returns) this matchup is still very much in play.

I’m on record as citing the Jazz and then the Rockets as the best first-round options for the Thunder. In the case of the Rockets, there will be the inevitable guard matchups with the Rockets boasting the two former Thunder superstar MVPs, but for as much as everyone will expect Westbrook to be in full-on attack mode Chris Paul has an ax to grind with Daryl Morey.

Having born witness to CP3 leading the Clutch Time killers and his ability to dissect games on the fly I’m not sure it would be wise to bet against him. Either way the guard matchup would be worth the price of admission (an obvious pun since these games would occur without fans).

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect is the strategy for Harden. Luguentz Dort easily handled him in his first attempt and Terrance Ferguson has experienced success versus him as well.

As the Rockets fell down the ladder prior to the suspended season it was Westbrook who was feasting and Harden struggling. It begged two questions — are teams simply electing to focus solely on the bearded man and secondly have the Rockets become Russell Westbrook’s team already?

Eric Gordon and Robert Covington are key to the Rockets success. Gordon’s perimeter prowess and RoCo’s defense specifically could shift a series.

Yet, arguably the biggest factor in the series would rest at the 3-point line. The Rockets live and die behind the arc but the Thunder boast the fifth best perimeter defense. Combine that with Adams patrolling the paint and this series feels very winnable for OKC.

30 x 30 roundtable Q21: How Nuggets matchup vs. OKC in 1R series. dark. Next

Tuesday the Thunderous Intentions writing team ponders an LA Clippers – OKC Thunder series matchup.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy day.