By Charles Jay
If you are taking a close look at this Western Conference playoff series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets, you'll know that while James Harden and Russell Westbrook are the "stat guys," there are plenty of other elements that could figure in the outcome, determining who will move onto the next round of play. Game 1 of this series starts at 9 PM ET at the Toyota Center in Houston, and BetDNA customers will have the opportunity to place wagers in real time using the live betting apparatus, which adds a whole new dimension of excitement.
Houston powered its way to a 55-27 record, good for third place in the West, which was also third best in the entire league. Coach Mike D'Antoni deserves all the credit in the world for installing a more wide-open style of play, and he gave the ball to Harden, who responded by leading the league in assists. What is so attractive about this Houston team is that, by and large, they have enough speed to beat their opponents down the floor, creating open shot opportunities, and they took more triples the any team in NBA history. That's just the philosophy they're playing under.
The Thunder had to deal with the loss to the Golden State Warriors in last year's West finals, after being up three games to one, and then after that they dealt with the loss of Kevin Durant, who went to the hated Warriors as a free agent. That left things more the hands of Westbrook, who set an NBA record with 42 triple-doubles. We really don't have to go over all the numbers as far as these two superstar players are concerned, as what might be more intriguing surrounds what mechanisms may be employed to offset their presence.
In the NBA playoff odds posted on this game by the folks at BetDNA, home of the best parlay odds and the best teaser odds, Houston is a seven-point favorite, with a total of 227.5 points.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a team who can bring more firepower off the bench then Houston, in the persons of Eric Gordon and Lou Williams, both of whom are capable of scoring 30 points on any given night. In fact, Williams, who came over in a pivotal trade from the Lakers, had 31 points off the bench the last time these two teams played. That one was a Houston victory by double digits, but the other three games in this series were decided by a total of only seven points, so there is no question that there is a pretty good matchup here, and that Oklahoma City has their own ways of countering what Houston does. The Rockets are admittedly a finesse team, which means they are at least a little vulnerable to a team out-muscling them. That's something the Thunder can do some; they were #1 in the league in offensive rebounding, and #3 in defensive rebounding. So let's see how many second-shot opportunities will be able to get.
BetDNA patrons already know that Patrick Beverley is one of the better defensive guards in the league, and he will be assigned to make it as difficult as possible for Westbrook. But you have to wonder how much time Beverley will be on the floor, since D'Antoni has to keep Harden out there, as well as accommodate Williams and Gordon. There are only so many guards you can put on the floor once. Andre Roberson, on the other hand, is somebody who, size-wise, matches up well with Harden, and is a pain in the neck for him to deal with. Over the four meetings this season, Harden shot only 34% against the Thunder, and acted wind up being the key factor. Of course, Oklahoma City has to be of the defend the perimeter, which is no easy task. But maybe they can take solace in the fact that Houston, for all of its big numbers in terms of three-point attempts (accounting for 46% of total shots), they were under 36% in terms of accuracy.
When you talk about role players, Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, who came over from Chicago, a going to somehow figure into the outcome here. And Houston may not have a defensive matchup for Enes Kanter, the big guy who is so talented offensively. Remember that even though Houston is the third seed, is Oklahoma City that has been through more playoff wars, coming to within one game of making it into the NBA Finals last season, if not for, well, that collapse against G-State. We think the points are well worth taking in this one, as we start playoff action at BetDNA, where you can get the best parlay odds and the best teaser odds, as well as multiple ways to open up an account, including your major credit card, person-to-person transfers (like Western Union) and Bitcoin, a very easy method which can help you get your pay out on the same day you requested!…… And remember, live betting adds a whole new dimension to the action – and that's because BETTING IS IN THEIR DNA!