It's a Western Conference matchup of two young teams on Wednesday night as the surprising Oklahoma City Thunder visit the Houston Rockets. It is time to continue our NBA odds series with a Thunder-Rockets prediction, pick, and how-to-watch.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were a team that people knew they had to keep an eye on in the coming years. They have seemingly an endless supply of draft picks, young talent already on their roster, and budding star power that can carry them to a future championship. The issue for the Thunder is that they were the second-youngest roster in the NBA entering this season. The Thunder's youngsters have passed all expectations and are second in the Western Conference behind the Minnesota Timberwolves. They were a play-in tournament team last season, but the emergence of rookie Chet Holmgren has made them a championship contender.
The Houston Rockets are another team doing better than expected but are only in tenth in the conference. They are nearly flawless at home, sporting an 8-1 record, but have failed to pick up a win on the road, bringing their record to 8-9. The Rockets have an eight-game home winning streak, picking up wins against Denver(twice), Memphis, and New Orleans over the last four games at the Toyota Center. Alperen Sengun is thriving as the team's starting center, averaging 21.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Newcomers Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks are also welcome additions, with Brooks bringing shutdown defense and VanVleet being a role model for the young guards on the team.
Here are the NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
NBA Odds: Thunder-Rockets Odds
Oklahoma City Thunder: -2.5 (-110)
Houston Rockets: +2.5 (-110)
Over: 227 (-108)
Under: 227 (-112)
How to Watch Thunder vs. Rockets
Time: 8 PM ET/5 PM PT
TV: Bally Sports Oklahoma
Stream: FuboTV (Click for free trial)
Why The Thunder Could Cover The Spread
The Thunder are in the top ten for scoring offense and defense this season. They are fifth in scoring offense, averaging 119.7 points per game. They are ninth in scoring defense, allowing 111.4 points per game. The Thunder should win the offensive battle, as the Rockets are 26th in the league with 110.1 points per game. The Thunder may struggle against Houston's third-ranked defense, but they should still be able to outscore the Rockets.
Starting centers against the Rockets have put up plenty of double-digit scoring nights due to Sengun's inexperience there. Nikola Jokic has dominated them in three straight games, Jaren Jackson Jr. had a good night with the Grizzlies, and Ivica Zubac and Jonas Valanciunas had above-average games. This game is setting up for Chet Holmgren to have a big night, and as we have seen, if Holmgren is a contributor, then the Thunder have a great chance of winning.
Why The Rockets Could Cover The Spread
The Rockets disparity in their play on the road and at home this season is mindblowing. They are the only team in the NBA without a win on the road. They have lost their last three games, all on the road, and allowed scores of 121, 134, and 107. Before heading out on the road, they beat the Nuggets by a score of 105-86, the same team that would put up 134 points against them five days later. It seems like everything improves for the Rockets when they are at home. Their scoring has an uptick, their defense is elite, and they make life miserable for the visiting team.
Final Thunder-Rockets Prediction & Pick
The Houston Rockets are a different team on the road, most notably on defense. On offense, they are around their league average of 111.9 points per game, but they allow 98.6. The Thunder are an elite offensive team, but they have shut down the Nuggets(twice), Kings(twice), Warriors, and Lakers. Dillon Brooks has brought defensive tenacity to the team, and it's obvious he has instilled a desire to defend on home court. Only one of the Rockets games this season has had more than 226.5 points, and it came in the second game. The total has been around 200 points in most games, especially recently.
Most people will blindly take the Rockets tonight since they are undefeated at home. The issue is that they will face an elite defensive unit in their own right, which will look to limit their scoring. The Rockets have been holding good offensive teams to less than 100 points regularly at home, but the Thunder can exploit some mismatches. Notably, there aren't many players capable of stopping Chet Holmgren, which the Rockets found out against the Nuggets recently when Nikola Jokic went off for 32 points. It may seem contradictory to believe that the Rockets' defense will contribute to the game going under, but still find a way to lose this game with how their season has been going at the Toyota Center. However, we saw that type of game earlier when the Golden State Warriors handed the Rockets a 106-95 loss.
Take the Thunder's offense to outscore the Rockets, albeit in a defensive battle, as the Thunder's defense is also top-ten in the NBA.
Final Thunder-Rockets Prediction & Pick: Under 227 (-112)