3 min read

Preview 55 of 82: Thunder @ Rockets

Preview 55 of 82: Thunder @ Rockets

Time: 7:30 PM CST


Game Notes: Thunder / Rockets

The Thunder (35-19) are on the road tonight in the Space City, taking on James Harden and the Rockets (32-22) at the Toyota Center in downtown Houston. The Thunder are currently third in the Western Conference and enter having won nine of their last 10 games. The Rockets are two games back in fifth and come in having won three in a row. The teams have split the season series 1-1 thus far.

Tip-off is at 7:30 PM CST and will be nationally televised on ABC. The Thunder are 2.5-point road underdogs according to Odds Shark.

News: Alex Abrines was released earlier this afternoon. For more details, visit here.

Injury Report


  • Alex Abrines: Out — Released
  • Andre Roberson: Out — Knee


  • Clint Capela: Out — Thumb
  • Gary Clark: Out — G-League
  • Danuel House Jr: Out — G-League

Probable Starters

Rockets: Chris Paul, James Harden, Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker, Kenneth Faried




Four Factors


What to Watch For

PG13 vs The Beard. We’ve got a showdown between MVP candidates in this one, as Paul George and James Harden enter in the midst of fantastic 2018-19 seasons. George is averaging a career-high 28 PPG and shooting a blistering 40.8 percent on more than nine three-point attempts per game. Harden is posting an unreal stat line of 36.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 7.9 assists — shooting 37.5 percent on more than 13 three-point attempts per game.

Defending Harden. Harden hit the Thunder for 41 points (15/35 FG, 5/16 3P, 6/7 FT) in Houston’s Christmas Day win, so expect George and Terrance Ferguson to stay plenty busy tonight. Harden will get his statistics based on volume alone, but OKC can do themselves a favor by keeping a hand in his face beyond the arc and doing their best to keep him off the free throw line. He and Chris Paul will look to force the issue against a Thunder defense that’s looked far from elite lately. Steven Adams will need to be careful deciding when to help — both Harden and Paul will have no issue hitting an open man near the rim.

Russ & CP3. Speaking of Paul, he’s part of a good matchup at the point guard position. CP3 isn’t having his best season, averaging 15.5 points and 7.9 assists on 42 percent shooting (34.6% 3P). Russell Westbrook enters on an eight-game triple-double streak and can tie Wilt Chamberlain’s record of nine straight with another feat of strength today in Houston.

No, Not That Guy. The Rockets landed Iman Shumpert at the trade deadline, which is just terrible news for the Thunder. He’s expected to make his Rockets debut this evening and his two highest-scoring games for the Kings this season came against OKC. (23 & 26)

Kiwi & The Manimal. With Clint Capela out due to injury, the Rockets have been rolling small and starting Kenneth Faried at center. He’s averaging 16.1 points and 10.2 rebounds in the nine games since being traded from Brooklyn, and presents an interesting matchup for Steven Adams. Big Kiwi has the size advantage over the 6-8 Faried, so Billy Donovan’s game plan should likely include a healthy amount of bludgeoning Houston’s lack of size in the paint.