Today we are joined by Trey Hunter of Welcome to Loud City for a quick little sit down chat about the upcoming playoff series between the Oklahoma City Thunder. We discussed feelings of déjà vu, programming hype, potential difference makers, and we share our series predictions. It was a delight to work with Trey and he asked some great questions which can be found here.
Bold is questions crowd sourced from Twitter and my own brain meats, the quoted portion is from Mr. Hunter.
Do Thunder fans feel a sense of déjà vu against the upstart Rockets in this 1 v. 8 Matchup? (The Thunder made their first current incarnation playoffs against the number 1 seeded Lakers and took them to 6 games as a young, fast paced, and up and coming team)
I can see how fans see a little Thunder in this year's Rockets team. There's obviously the youthfull, 1 vs 8 parallel between the two teams and Houston has a young core of good players just like the Thunder did three years ago, making them extremely exciting to watch.
The only thing is, I don't think Houston can do much damage to Oklahoma City. I didn't think the Thunder could get by the Lakers three years ago either, but I did think they could do a little damage. That's where I see the difference in the two match ups.
Houston has plenty of scoring, especially from the perimeter. However, Asik isn't enough of a threat down low to make them as complete as the Thunder were three seasons ago. Once Houston finds that low-post threat I think they will continue down the same road OKC took and over the next couple of years could improve to a 55-60 win team.
Could this match up be the most entertaining series of the playoffs?
There may be more entertaining series in this year's playoffs, but I do think the Rockets vs. Thunder matchup has the potential to turn some heads.
The series features two of the highest scoring teams in the NBA and there will be plenty of shooters on the floor. The Rockets live beyond the arc with Harden, Parsons and Lin. Not to mention Durant, Westbrook Sefolosha and Martin aren't shy about lifting triples either. So we could be in store for plenty tickling of the twine.
There's also the Harden-factor. Of course we're going to see a lot of TV-play about Harden returning to OKC for his first playoff series with the Rockets. Most Thunder fans still love Harden and I'm sure look forward to seeing him in a playoff atmosphere again. The players I'm sure think nothing of it, but as a fan it's hard not to love watching friends battle it out on the hardwood. The friend-factor is something that doesn't really matter, but is fun to buy into.
It will definitely be a fun series, but it's hard to say it has the potential to top Celtics vs. Knicks, Clippers vs. Grizzlies or Warriors vs. Nuggets. Thunder vs. Rockets has the potential to be the third or fourth best matchup in the first round.
What matchup are you most concerned about?
Omer Asik could give the Thunder problems underneath. The Rockets love shooting from beyond the arc, but without Asik damaging teams underneath, defenses can defend the perimeter without helping on the block. If Asik forces Durant, Westbrook, or Sefolosha to sag of their man to help it could easily lead to an open three, which the Rockets don't miss very often.
Chandler Parsons is also a tough matchup for the Thunder. He's a big that can extend a defense (think Chris Bosh vs. OKC in the Finals). Serge Ibaka or Durant will likely guard him and that could lead to Oklahoma City rebounding with just Kendrick Perkins under the basket.
How does this series end?
Thunder in 5 games.
When Houston lost to Los Angeles in their final game I was pumped to get the Rockets in the first round. Honestly, I thought the Thunder would sweep the Lakers easily, but with Houston, there should be much more excitement.
Houston just doesn't matchup with Oklahoma City and that's why I see a five-game series. I could see the Rockets going off one game much like they did in Houston earlier in the season and lighting up the scoreboard for a win. However, at the end of the day Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Martin and the others are just too much for the Rockets to handle. Plus Houston doesn't have enough power underneath. The Thunder should handle the Rockets and look to move on after 4-5 games.