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Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game preview

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The Rockets head to OKC to take on the Thunder in the first night of a back-to-back.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes you have to win games. They aren't "must-win" because a game in November on the road can't be described as a must-win. But this one is.

The Thunder are not going to be bad for long. So when they are missing their two best players you have to beat them, even if it's on the road. This is a game that Houston will look back at in April and we'll either be thinking "Yeah we really needed that one at the time" or "Man, how did we lose that one?"

James Harden is still winless in OKC since coming to Houston, so maybe he'll want this win.

Really, I'd just love a big win after the Rockets barely defeated the Sixers.

Tip off is at 6pm CST on NBA TV. This also marks the last game on CSN Houston, I believe. Root Sports takes over on Monday.

Matchups:

Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. Reggie Jackson

I really hope Beverley plays in this game. I love how OKC fans hate him for the stupidest reason ever.

OKC fans, please spare me the "He did it on purpose" when Bev did what every single point guard in the league does.

Look, at the end of the day, Patrick Beverley is an awesome point guard if he's on your team, and the most annoying guy ever if he's on any other team.

Mr. October is averaging 22/8/4 and has been a solid replacement for Russell Westbrook.

Advantage: Thunder

Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Jeremy Lamb

If Jeremy Lamb outplays James Harden, then the Thunder won the Harden Trade.

Does that mean we would have to call it the Lamb Trade? Does that mean Zach Lowe will stop calling out the Thunder for the trade?

Advantage: Rockets

Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Lance Thomas

Thomas has had a couple of really nice games for the Thunder, but he's shooting 30% in his last 5 games.

The Rockets' 3-point shooting went down the drain against Philly, and it starts with Trevor.

Now, Ariza does so many other things that it's impossible to get too upset with him when he's playing good defense and still grabbing a handful of rebounds and assists. But 1-7 from 3 cannot start a trend. Everyone has a bad game, though, so maybe I'm just being stupid.

Fine, I'm definitely just being stupid.

Advantage: Rockets

Power Forward: Donatas Motiejunas vs. Serge Ibaka

Ibaka will block at least 5 of Harden's shots at the rim. Book it. Ibaka blocks 2-3 shots every game and can do that to anyone, but he really enjoys swatting the Beard into the second row.

Advantage: Thunder

Center: Dwight Howard vs. Steven Adams

Steven Adams is the Patrick Beverley of centers. But of course OKC fans think he's awesome.

Advantage: Rockets

Bench

Rockets: Propeller Plane, Tarik BlackKostas PapanikolaouTroy Daniels, Isaiah Canaan

Thunder: Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins, Sebastian Telfair, Anthony Morrow

Advantage: Even

Prediction: Rockets win 98-91

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