Look, I know that two seasons ago you gave Houston the biggest schedule loss you could ever try to accomplish. We even obtained the transcript of Adam Silver and David Stern’s attempt to screw over Houston. But Houston still won that game despite OKC having 5 days off and the Rockets on the second night of a back-to-back.
Well, tonight is a little better, but still makes little sense. Houston has their customary day off, but have to travel to OKC, where the Thunder haven’t played since Monday. Also, the Rockets have already played in OKC this season. And have had two separate 5-game road trips. And had a back-to-back in Denver.
Anyway, the Rockets did not have Patrick Beverley the last time these teams met. In fact, Bev returned to the lineup the very next game. Since then, the Rockets are 9-2 and rolling.
Obviously, the big test tonight will be stopping Russell Westbrook. The leading MVP candidate is averaging a triple-double and has six straight, which coincide with the six straight Thunder wins. We can talk usage percentage and all that stuff until we’re blue in the face, but triple-doubles are impressive no matter how you slice them. And no one can question that Russ is an incredible and talented athlete.
Patrick Beverley will for sure relish this matchup. Opposing fan hatred only makes him stronger, and he’ll be determined to stop the triple-double streak. The Thunder fans will continue to hate him for doing something that literally every point guard did and still does. But we’re past that now.
James Harden usually looks forward to playing MVP candidates. We know The Beard is an otherworldly player no matter the opponent, but he seems to get more excited when playing against guys like LeBron, Russ, or the Warriors. That’s what makes his last dud against the Thunder so confusing. Look for him to try to silence the OKC crowd early and often. And if Houston plays their game in Oklahoma, they should walk out victors.
And heck, why not a throwback video?
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on ESPN.