Preview 34 of 82: Rockets @ Thunder
Time: 7:00 PM CT
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
All I want for Christmas is for OKC to win this game and my wish might actually come true. The Rockets (25-6) will likely be without Chris Paul and Clint Capela is listed as questionable. The Thunder (18-15) still face serious offensive firepower from James Harden and Eric Gordon, but it should be easier to defend without Paul and Capela.
The Thunder has won four of the past five games and is 5-2 on Christmas Day since relocating from Seattle. Hopefully you’ve all been nice this year. Otherwise, a Thunder loss is on you.
- Chris Paul: Doubtful – Adductor Strain
- Clint Capela: Questionable – Heel
- Luc Mbah a Moute: Out – Shoulder
- Troy Williams: Out – MCL
Rockets: Harden, Gordon, Ariza, Anderson, Nene/Capela
Brodie Back. Russell Westbrook has recently returned to MVP form. He’s improved significantly in both mid-range and restricted area shooting and his field goal percentage in his last 5 games is nearly double what it was in his first 28 games (29% to 57%). He also recorded his 11th triple-double of the season on Saturday vs. the Jazz.
Catch-and-Shoot Carmelo. Carmelo Anthony seems to be settling into his role on the Thunder and the offense appears to be smoother and more deliberate. On the Knicks, Melo was a do-it-all player but he seems to be accepting that he’ll need to do less to be an effective part of the Thunder offense. In Saturday’s win, he had a season-high seven made three-pointers on twelve attempts.
Defense Wins Against the Rockets. The Thunder defense has been nothing short of stifling this season (third in the NBA in PA) and it will be essential to holding the Rockets to under 100 points tonight. The Rockets attempt and make more threes than any other team. The Thunder (21st in three-point percentage) isn’t going to win a shoot-out against the Rockets so consistent team defense will be key.
Awkward Reunion. It’s no secret that Melo’s first choice for a trade was Houston. Ultimately, the Knicks and the Rockets couldn’t work out a deal — landing Anthony in OKC. It’s unclear how or if this will affect him but I’m hoping it unlocks a fourth Melo personality: “Christmas Day Melo.”