NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets
USATSI

The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, two teams involved in a major blockbuster trade last offseason, are going head-to-head in the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs. Last July, the Rockets shipped superstar guard Chris Paul to the Thunder in exchange for another superstar guard in Russell Westbrook. Both players helped to lead their new teams into the postseason picture, and in turn those two teams are facing off against each other in the first round.  

In Game 1, the Rockets pulled out a commanding 123-108 win over the Thunder, thanks largely to a 37-point, 11-rebound performance from James Harden. So needless to say, the Thunder will be looking for a big bounce-back win Thursday in Game 2. If that's going to happen, they'll need more than the nine points they got from guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Rockets might still be without All-Star guard Russell Westbrook in Game 2, but they got on fine without him in the opening game. 

Here's everything you need to know about Game 2 between the Rockets and Thunder

How to Watch Game 2

  • Date: Thursday, Aug. 20 | 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Disney Wide World of Sports -- Orlando, Florida
  • TV: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
  • Odds: Rockets -2.5 | Over/Under: 227.5

Storylines

Rockets: Houston's postseason push got off to a very solid start in Game 1. Harden led the way for the Rockets, but he had help as four other players -- Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Jeff Green, Ben McLemore -- scored in double figures. While they're known for putting up points, the Rockets played some solid defense in Game 1 too, as they held the Thunder to 44 percent shooting from the field. Ultimately, the team hopes to get Westbrook back, and at that point they will become even more dangerous. 

Overall, this could be a make-or-break postseason for the Rockets. After coming close to a Finals appearance over the past couple of seasons, major changes could be coming for the franchise if they don't make a deep run. Coach Mike D'Antoni, who is on the last year of his current contract, could be replaced over the offseason if the Rockets fail to make major noise in this postseason. A Finals run could motivate the organization to commit to D'Antoni moving forward. However, if the Rockets ultimately fall short -- again -- in the playoffs, this time with their small-ball approach, the two sides could part ways when D'Antoni's contract is up after the season.

Thunder: Game 1 obviously didn't go as Oklahoma City had hoped, but it's not time to panic for the Thunder. Moving forward, they can expect to get more production from their backcourt trio of Chris Paul, Dennis Schroeder, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Those three combined for just 35 points in Game 1, well below their average during the regular season. The bright spot for the Thunder in the first game was Danilo Gallinari, who led the team with 29 points. Oklahoma City will need him to continue to be very productive. Look for the Thunder to come out aggressively early on in Game 2. 

Prediction

The Rockets thoroughly dominated the Thunder on both ends of the floor in Game 1, and honestly neither team gave any indication that it will be a different story in Game 2. Even without Westbrook the Rockets are the deeper team, and they have more weapons on the offensive end. Oklahoma City's backcourt will have to carry the load if the Thunder are going to have a chance, but ultimately the Thunder will have a tough time keeping up with Houston's blistering pace on the offensive end. Pick: Rockets -2.5