Houston fell to the eighth seed with a season-ending 99-95 overtime loss to the Lakers as a 2.5-point road underdog.
That was Houston's fourth straight-up loss and fifth against the spread defeat in its last six games. It heads into Sunday’s Game 1 against the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena with a 16-25 SU record on the road this year and a costly 17-23-1 road record ATS.
The Rockets are 6-14-1 ATS in their last 21 games against a team from the Northwest Division and just 1-5 ATS at Oklahoma City recently.
ADVERTISEMENT: The Thunder is 15-5 ATS as a big favorite (9+ points) - is their best line at Sportsbook ? Check it out.
The is little doubt that Houston can light up the scoreboard with the best of the NBA with an average of 106 points a game, but its downfall in this series could be its inability to keep an opposing team from doing the same (102.5 points allowed).
James Harden will look to have a big series against his former team after averaging a team-high 25.9 points for the Rockets this season. Jeremy Lin chipped in another 13.4 points and 6.1 assists.
Oklahoma City has quietly gone about its business heading into the playoffs with a 7-2 SU (6-3 ATS) record in its last nine games. Beating the Thunder SU at home this season has been a rare occurrence with a 34-7 SU (27-14 ATS) record in 41 games.
They are 18-7-1 in their last 26 games against the Southwest and 5-1 ATS in their last six games against a team with a winning record.
Behind the scoring duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, which combined for 51.3 points a game this season, the Thunder should have little problem keeping pace with the Rockets’ potent offense if things turn into a shootout.
The difference maker in this matchup will most likely be Oklahoma City’s defense, which is ranked ninth in the NBA in points allowed (96.5).
The home team in this matchup is 10-3 ATS in the last 13 meetings and the total has gone OVER in five of the last six games played in Oklahoma City. The Thunder won two of three meetings this season both SU and ATS with the total going OVER in all three games.
Houston has been set at +4000 at Sportsbook to with the conference and +10000 to win the title. The Thunder are +110 favorites to return to the NBA Finals from the West and sit at +500 to bring the title home this time around.
Prediction: Thunder in 5 games