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Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game preview

The Rockets head to OKC to face a Thunder squad desperate to get into the postseason.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets head to OKC to take part in yet another dumb noon start time matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

For the Thunder, they're attempting to hold off the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans lost to the Blazers last night, so OKC leads the chase for third by a full game with 6 games remaining for both teams. OKC is even more desperate because they do not hold the tiebreaker against New Orleans. So they're going to go for this one.

Meanwhile, Houston got a break last night when the Washington Wizards went into Memphis and beat the Grizzlies. Houston goes into this game with a half-game lead on the Grizzlies for the 2 seed in the West.

Everyone knows Russell Westbrook is a walking triple-double with this team, but Enes Kanter has also emerged as a force down low. In his last two games, Kanter is averaging 27 points and 16.5 rebounds on 63% shooting. That's really good (Source: math).

With Westbrook, Kanter, an array of shooters (Kyle Singler, Anthony Morrow, and D.J. Augustin), and a couple of energy guys (Steven Adams and Mitch McGary), the Thunder can beat absolutely anyone. And in their home arena, they are always a tough matchup. Remember, an almost completely healthy Rockets squad won the ugliest game of the year in OKC by a score of 69-65 earlier this season. The Thunder were without Kevin Durant and Westbrook in that one and Houston was only down Terrence Jones. Houston did win the rematch comfortably back at Toyota Center, but the stakes were different then.

I expect OKC to keep the pressure on for the entire 48 minutes. Houston has a habit of giving up leads in general, but OKC will never be out of this game. Their crowd is going to feed them no matter what the score. OKC knows they have to win out to guarantee themselves a spot in the postseason, and their three remaining difficult games (Houston, San Antonio, and Portland) are all home games.

Tip-off is at 12pm CST on ABC.

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