Preseason Preview: Rockets @ Thunder

TV: NBA TV

Game Stream: Thunder Website

Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC, 97.1 FM Tulsa)

It’s been 161 days since the Houston Rockets eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of last season’s playoffs. Despite Russell Westbrook’s Herculean stat line of 37.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 10.8 assists, the Thunder was sent home early after being outscored by 51.3 points per 100 possessions in the 46 minutes he was off the floor. If anything was made clear for OKC in the series, it was that the soon-to-be-MVP needed assistance.

In adding Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder is now a trendy pick to finish second in the Western Conference behind the Golden State Warriors. Not far behind is this Houston team — fresh off a blockbuster offseason trade of their own that brought nine-time All-Star Chris Paul into the fold. Fans will get a first look at both squads tonight in Tulsa, but Oklahoma City will be without Westbrook, who is being eased into action after a PRP injection in his right knee.

Nevertheless, Thunder fans can expect to see a lot of George and Anthony, along with newcomer Raymond Felton — who will start at point guard in Westbrook’s absence. How the team looks tonight will hardly be a reflection of its final form, but a strong showing could turn the expectations up to a deafening level. With just 16 days until opening night, it’s finally basketball season in Oklahoma.


Injury Report

Thunder

Rockets


Starters

Thunder

PG: Raymond Felton

SG: Andre Roberson

SF: Paul George

PF: Carmelo Anthony

C: Steven Adams

Rockets

PG: Chris Paul

SG: James Harden

SF: Trevor Ariza

PF: Ryan Anderson

C: Clint Capela


Notes

According to Nick Gallo, the Thunder starters are expected to see a “decent” amount of playing time in the first half. It’s unknown if Billy Donovan will give them much run after intermission.

Mike D’Antoni said he expects his starters to receive around 30 minutes of action.

Chris Paul spoke with Erik Horne about Melo ending up in a Thunder jersey. “He is where he is now. He’s happy.”

Terrance Ferguson is a Tulsa native and will be playing in front of his hometown crowd tonight. He had this to say at today’s shootaround:

The availability of Westbrook, Abrines and Patterson for Friday versus the Pelicans has yet to be determined. The Thunder play again on Sunday against visiting Melbourne United, before wrapping up preseason play on the road in Denver a week from tonight.