Josh Smith and James Harden, of the Houston Rockets.

Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder Betting Overview

Written by on January 29, 2016

On the heels of a 130-99 shellacking in San Antonio on Wednesday, the Houston Rockets head north to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night, with a tipoff at 8:00pm Eastern time. Let’s take a look at this key matchup between a team that is in some Western Conference Finals conversations and a team that is in danger of ending up in one of the lottery positions if they don’t develop some more consistency on the defensive end of the floor. Check out our NBA lines to learn the odds!To watch the national TV schedule, click here.To watch online, click here.

Why should you bet on the Rockets?

What separates a team like the Rockets from an elite team? The Rockets have just as much talent as San Antonio, Golden State and Oklahoma City, but they don’t have the evenhanded preparation and execution as those other two teams have. As interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the loss to the Spurs, “They played a beautiful game of basketball and we watched it. And as it was halftime, you watched clips of it; the way they play the game is the proper way the game should be played…I hope we learned a lesson.”The Rockets are a team that can deliver as much offensive firepower as any franchise in the Association. Led by James Harden, this is a team that can pile up the points when people are shooting well, combining dagger-like precision with a blinding transition game. Trevor Ariza can get red-hot with his shooting, and Josh Smith can play well in multiple positions. So if these Rockets show up against Oklahoma City, they can win easily give the Thunder a challenging game.

Why should you take the Thunder?

The Oklahoma City Thunder keep finding ways to win games. They had a seven-game winning streak snapped in Brooklyn, after a blizzard delayed the start, but then they took a big overtime win at Madison Square Garden and knocked off the Timberwolves in thrilling fashion as well. They are playing opponents who are maxing out their effort to knock off an elite team, but the Thunder keep responding with just a bit more. Given that Kevin Durant considers crunch time “the most carefree time of the game,” as he said in the postgame conference after the win over Minnesota, this is a dangerous team for anyone to be facing. The key in the Minnesota win was the boards, as Oklahoma City had a 47-31 rebounding advantage. Keep an eye on the injury news surrounding point guard Cameron Payne, who left the game with concussion-like symptoms and had to leave the game. His contributions to the team against an opponent like Houston will be important.

Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction

The Thunder are returning home after a 3-1 road trip. I like them to protect the home floor against a Houston Rockets team that is still struggling to find their identity, particularly on the defensive end. I’m picking Oklahoma City to win this game, 118-110.