There isn’t much to be gleaned from this primer. The first game of a 7-game series is usually the baseline from which the rest of the series is adjusted. What you’ll see today is the strategy that has likely been preached for the past two weeks in practices when the Oklahoma City Thunder were locked into facing the Houston Rockets. The adjustments will be made from this game out.
There isn’t much to be taken from the 4 regular season match-ups. Three of them were played before the trade deadline and the fourth match-up was a blowout that didn’t really tell us anything other than Houston can shoot a little.
By this point in the season, there are 82 games worth of game film and data on every team in the league. The most important aspect in the playoffs is execution. Can you make the necessary play in spite the fact the other team probably knows exactly what you are going to do? That is what the playoffs are about. It’s about executing through difficult. That is why only the best 16 teams make it in.
- Oklahoma City – None
- Houston – Sam Dekker (hand)
3 Big Things
1. Guarding Harden
Throughout the season, the Thunder chose to hedge hard on Harden, and take their chances on the Rockets’ shooters knocking down their shots. That worked well in the first 3 games, but bit the Thunder in the butt in the last game, as the Rockets shot 51% from deep on 39 attempts.
2. Interior scoring
Clint Capela is a fine defensive center and Nene has gotten much better as a positional defender. But there should be no reason why Steven Adams and Enes Kanter don’t win the center match-up throughout the game, in both scoring and rebounding.
His minutes should increase from the 34 minutes he played per game during the regular season. A Westbrook with 38-40 minutes a game should not only be a statistical god, but also more of a triple-double machine.