Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game preview

Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

One night after Kyle Lowry returned to Houston, James Harden returns to Oklahoma City as the Rockets put their three game winning streak on the line against the Thunder.

There's lots of stories for this one.

James Harden and Kevin Martin are facing their former clubs.

The Rockets will not reach OKC until the afternoon since they are attending Sasha McHale's funeral.

The Rockets are on a three game winning streak.

The Thunder won their last game by 45 points (thanks BD). In that game, no Thunder played more than Hasheem Thabeet. Yeah, that happened.

Tip off is at 7pm CST.

Matchups:

Point Guard: Jeremy Lin vs. Russell Westbrook

I'm pumped that Lin had a great game against Lowry and the Raptors. He played really well. But remember when Westbrook ate him alive in the preseason. That was one-on-one basketball and Russ was better.

When the Rockets had Lowry and Dragic, they could get under Westbrook's skin by being annoying and hounding him all over the court. Jeremy Lin isn't that kind of player (annoying, I mean). I expect Westbrook to score 30.

Advantage: Thunder

Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Thabo Sefalosha/Kevin Martin

The Thunder will shove Durant to the four and play both of these guys at times, but Thabo starts and K-Mart comes off the bench.

K-Mart is averaging 16 points per game and is getting to the line just as much as he did last season. It seems those NBA rules haven't changed much and aren't giving him credit for those dribble pull ups into the defender.

Clearly, Harden guarding either of these guys is going to play a large part in who wins this game. Thabo can probably stick with Harden and Perkins and Ibaka can back him up at the rim.

But Harden's been training:

Detective James Carter: Well, for your information, I'm part Chinese now. That's right, Lee. For the last three years, I have studied the ancient teachings of Buddha, earning two black belts in Wu Shu martial arts, spending every afternoon the Hong Kong Massage parlor. I'm half Chinese, baby!
Chief Inspector Lee: If you're half Chinese, I'm half black. I'm your brother and I'm fly. You down with that, Snoopy? That's dope, innit?
Detective James Carter: Sorry, Lee. You can't be black. There's a height requirement.

Advantage: Rockets

Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is good at basketball and stuff.

Advantage: Thunder

Power Forward: Patrick Patterson vs. Serge Ibaka

Quietly, Patrick Patterson is playing incredible basketball. After dealing with foul trouble early last night, he came alive in the third quarter. The Rockets played poor defense against the Raptors and usually that leads to losses. Patterson's monster quarter helped the Rockets pull away.

Ibaka is a monster and can space the floor and hit jump shots. He's not the "stretch" four that Patterson is but he's a better rim protector. Shots at the rim will be hard to come by.

Advantage: Even

Center: Omer Asik vs. Kendrick Perkins

I expect Asik to have another great game as long as he isn't exhausted. Perkins is a large body but neither he nor Thabeet can stick with Asik. The real problems for Asik will arise when the Thunder go small and stick Ibaka at the 5. That's going to tire him out on defense running with all those screens away from the basket.

Advantage: Rockets

Bench/Rotation Players

Rockets: Toney Douglas, Daequan Cook, Marcus Morris, Greg Smith; Delfino is probably out

Raptors: Eric Maynor, Kevin Martin, Hasheem Thabeet, Nick Collison

Advantage: Thunder

Prediction: Rockets too tired, lose 108-87

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