The key storyline ahead of Thursday's contest between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder has been the return of Russell Westbrook to the city that he called home for the first 11 years of his career. Westbrook — and the respective front offices — shook up the basketball world this summer with a blockbuster deal that landed the former MVP alongside his former teammate James Harden in a new city.

Ahead of the ball going up, Chris Paul, who was traded as part of the package that got the Westbrook deal done, had this to say per Allie LaForce of TNT about how he hoped that the crowd would react to Westbrook being back in town:

“I hope the fans go nuts for Russ … I hope they cheer loud, but once that ball goes up, it's game time.”

Of course, it won't be the first time that Westbrook and Paul are facing their respective former teams. The two sides collided back on Oct. 28 in Houston, which resulted in a 116-112 victory for the Rockets, in which Westbrook flirted with a triple-double.

Fast-forwarding over two months, the two squads meet again, this time with both in position to make the Western Conference postseason, with Houston holding onto the No. 3 seed, while the Thunder enter at No. 7. There is ample time remaining in the regular season for the two to jockey for position, with a possible playoff series very much in play.

Thursday will mark Westbrook's only trip to OKC this season, barring a playoff rematch.