Tip-off: 0235, 10/01/2020
Stadium: Chesapeake Energy Arena
TV: Sky Sports
One of Oklahoma City Thunder’s all-time greats will make an emotional return to the Chesapeake Energy Arena as Russell Westbrook’s Houston Rockets come to town.
Westbrook was traded to the Rockets in July after 11 years with the Thunder, where he was selected as the fourth overall pick at the 2008 NBA Draft.
He was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2017, the year where he was also the league’s scoring champion – in addition to his 2015 scoring title.
The point guard helped Oklahoma win the Western Conference in 2012 and guided them to five Northwest division titles.
But the 31-year-old will be plotting their downfall as he ventures into the visiting locker room for the first time, re-energised after sitting out Houston’s 122-115 win at Atlanta this week.
Westbrook scored 138 of his 144 career triple-doubles while at Oklahoma and, in familiar surroundings, we fancy the eight-time NBA All-Star to record number 145 at his former home for our first Thunder v Rockets prediction.
He is 19/20 to score over 24.5 points, Evens to provide more than 7.5 assists and 13/20 for above 7.5 rebounds.
A Look At Oklahoma City Thunder’s Betting Odds
The Thunder have adapted well after a poor start to the season where they traded All-Star duo Westbrook and Paul George to Houston and Los Angeles Clippers respectively.
Billy Donovan’s outfit have won eight of their last 10 matches to climb up to seventh in the Western Conference, four places behind their opponents – but closing the gap on the Rockets.
Oklahoma have also won six of their last seven home games – with a shock loss to Memphis Grizzlies their only blot on the copybook – and improve their scoring record when playing at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
On the road, Thunder only average 104.6 points per game, but that increases to 113.2 on home court.
Chris Paul, who was traded in exchange for Westbrook and will come up against his former Rockets team-mates, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have been in fine form, with center Steve Adams recording huge double-double numbers in his last three matches.
Dennis Schroder has also starred in recent games, coming off the bench to pour in 21, 22 and 19 points in three of the last four contests, so Oklahoma come into the all-Western Conference tie in red-hot form.
Houston are the NBA’s highest-scoring team, with an average of 119.4 points per game, and with Oklahoma’s home record, we believe 23/20 for over 226.5 match points is too good to pass up from the Thunder v Rockets odds.
A Look At Houston Rockets’ Betting Odds
Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets are in the mix for the NBA Finals once again thanks to the charge led by Westbrook and scoring machine James Harden.
The shooting guard averages a huge 38.5 points per game this season to lead the individual charts by a canter, with reigning MVP champion Giannis Antetokounmpo a distant second on 30.2.
The 30-year-old Harden hit 41 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists last time out against the Hawks, but the one surprising element of the campaign has been the performances of center Clint Capela, who has dominated the boards.
The Swiss big man (14.5 rebounds per game) is second only to Detroit Piston’s Andre Drummond (16.0) on the glass but he has also contributed with points, highlighted by his 22-22 display in those departments in Atlanta.
He also bagged 30 points against Philadelphia and 16 against Denver in recent double-double performance, as the Rockets have built a squad of players who are able to score across the floor, with PJ Tucker another posting career-best averages.
Despite Oklahoma’s recent good form, Houston’s scoring ability should come to the fore and we fancy them to return to Texas with a victory of six or more points at 7/5 in our Thunder v Rockets betting tips, while a winning margin of 6-10 is 15/4.
Brooklyn 103-111 (OT) OKLAHOMA CITY
Atalanta 115-122 HOUSTON
Head-to-head: Houston 116-112 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City 112-111 Houston, Houston 112-117 Oklahoma City
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