The Thunder and Rockets are going to be facing off in the frist-round of the playoffs.
With the Thunder win on Wednesday against the Heat, the Thunder and Rockets can both not move up or fall out of the fourth and fifth seeds meaning that the two will face each other in the first-round of the playoffs.
The matchup between the two teams will be a competitive series due to Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. Westbrook was traded from the Thunder this off season for Chris Paul and a vast amount of draft-picks. The two guards, Westbrook and Paul, will battle against their old teammates in hopes of moving to the second-round.
The Thunder have won 2/3 of the matchups that the two teams have faced off in, but the Thunder have never faced the Rockets small-ball lineup after the Rockets traded away Clint Capela.
The Thunder have many strong wing defenders to guard against the Thunder small-ball. However, Luguentz Dort, one of the Thunder’s primary wing defenders who is often tasked with guarding the superstar suffered a knee-injury in the game against the Miami Heat, but it is unknown how long Dort will miss as of now. Dort’s injury could be a huge blow for the Thunder if he misses the series. Dort held James Harden to a historically bad 9/29 from the field and 1/17 from beyond the arc in the last game the Thunder played against the Rockets. Without Dort, the Thunder will look to Terrance Ferguson, Andre Roberson, and Hamidou Diallo to attempt to guard Harden.
The Rockets will be missing superstar guard, Russell Westbrook, for the beginning of the series due to a quad strain, but Westbrook will likely return in time to play a majority of the series.
The two teams will face the winner of the Lakers (one-seed) and the eighth-seed matchup in the second round of the playoffs.