Every time this game is on the docket, you have to wonder how the NBA would look if James Harden was still on the Thunder team. It is a question that will probably be asked every time Harden goes against his old team and each year that passes by where Kevin Durant does not win a NBA title. My game of the night pick goes to the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets from the Toyota Center.
The Rockets are starting to look like the team most people proclaimed them to be before the start of the season with the big acquisition of Dwight Howard. The Rockets have won their last three games and look to extend that streak tonight against the Thunder. Harden is averaging 24.6 points per game and will look to have a big night against his friend, Kevin Durant, and his former team. Chandler Parson is back in the lineup after missing some time with a knee injury. With the three main pieces all playing together the Rockets look to take advantage of that and gain some momentum heading into the All-Star break.
On the other hand, for the Thunder, the team has not been playing well recently, even with Durant going off for 48 points in two of their last six games. Most people are saying that the Thunder need Durant to step up more with the absence of Russell Westbrook, but I believe the bench has to provide more of a scoring punch. I would like to see Jeremy Lamb get more shots and for Reggie Jackson to be a little bit more aggressive on the offensive end to ease the load off of Durant. Ibaka has been playing extremely well as of late and looks to get an All-Star nod while doing so. The team will only go as far as Durant is willing to take them, but he will be loving the return of his running mate soon to give him an extra boost.
My Pick: I am going to go with the Thunder in this game. Games are now starting to count a little bit more and seeding will always be a factor going forward. Other teams in the West such as the Clippers, Warriors and Blazers have the pedal to the ground, and the Thunder need to win to keep up with them. The Thunder need to win games like tonight against a potential playoff foe and make a statement for anyone writing them off way to early. Oklahoma City Thunder 105 – Houston Rockets 101
National TV: TNT
Time: 9:30 PM EST