ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith predicts that the #Houston Rockets are going to reach the Western Conference semi-finals. The Rockets will be meeting the #Oklahoma City Thunder in the opening-round of this year's NBA playoffs. The Rockets finished the regular season ranked at number three in the West while the Thunder ended at number six. The two sides met four times during the regular season, and Houston took the season series over Oklahoma. The first game of the series is scheduled to be held on Sunday in Texas..
Smith is not worried about Russell Westbrook
Stephen A. Smith insists that Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook is going to ''show up big time'' against the Houston Rockets. Westbrook finished the regular season averaging a triple-double -- 31.6 points, 10.4 assists, and 10.7 rebounds in 34.6 minutes per game. The 2015 and 2016 All Star game MVP broke a couple of records this season -- most 50-point games this season (4), highest usage ratio (41,8), most triple-doubles by an individual in a season (42), and the most points scored in a triple-double (57), reveals SB Nation.
However, the ESPN analyst is not sure how much help Westbrook will be getting from the rest of the team. Victor Oladipo, the second best scorer of OKC after Westbrook, could make some noise in the series, claims Smith, but he is not sold on that 100 percent. Guard Oladipo has been averaging 15.9 points in 67 games played so far in his debut season for Oklahoma..
''I have no doubt that Russell Westbrook is going to be sensational. But I question whether or not the other dudes on his squad are going to be able to make buckets. Victor Oladipo can play...but I don't believe he's that difference maker,'' Smith said.
James Harden and Houston's range
The Houston Rockets have been one of the most interesting NBA teams to watch this season. The team is coached by well-known run-and-gun style coach Mike D'Antoni, and he hasn't been shy about gunning the whole campaign. Having star guard James Harden and a couple of good shooters on the team gave D'Antoni the opportunity to implement his style. The Rockets broke the record for the most three-pointers attempted (40.1 per game) and for the most three-point shots made in a season (14.3 per game).
Harden is having an exceptional season, averaging 29.1 points, 11.2 assists, and 8.1 rebounds in 36.4 minutes per game. The 27-year-old led his team to a 55-27 record, and is a top candidate for the MVP award along with Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now the two are set to go head-to-head in the playoffs.