The Houston Rockets visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night to face Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder. This is one of the biggest games of the season for the Rockets, and Oklahoma City is two games ahead of them for the second seed in the NBA‘s Western Conference.
This season, the Rockets are 0-2 against the Thunder. Durant has scored 69 points through the first two contests against Houston, and Oklahoma City has scored 221 points. This will be no easy task for the Rockets.
Durant and Westbrook are arguably the most dynamic duo in the NBA. Both players are prolific scorers, with Durant being league’s leading scorer. Westbrook is as physically explosive a player as there is. Another factor is power forward Serge Ibaka, who has become a solid scorer and is a very good post defender.
Coach Kevin McHale will need to devise a plan to try and slow down the Thunder. Patrick Beverley will spend the majority of the time guarding Westbrook. It was Beverley who, in the playoffs last season, committed a hard foul on Westbrook; Westbrook subsequently tore his meniscus from that play.
It will be interesting to see what strategy the Rockets use against Durant. Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones and James Harden each figure to spend plenty of time guarding Durant.
Luckily for Harden, the Thunder will be without their best perimeter defender. Thabo Sefolosha will miss the game, as he is out with a calf strain for several weeks.
Dwight Howard will also have a significant advantage inside. With Kendrick Perkins out due to a groin injury, Nick Collison, Steven Adams and Ibaka will have the difficult task of matching up with the All-Star center.
Parsons’ playmaking ability will be key for the Rockets’ ability to succeed on offense. Durant will spend part of his time guarding Parsons. If Parsons is able to be effective on offense, Durant will have to exert some of his energy on that side of the ball that could be spent on his offense.
This is a big game for the Rockets. They have won 15 of their last 17 games and are playing the best that they have the entire season. Houston has one more game left against Oklahoma City following tonight. If they hope to continue climbing in the Western Conference standings, a victory tonight could go a long way in determining their final position.