After crushing the Indiana Pacers Friday night, the Houston Rockets have heated up and look to overtake the Thunder and San Antonio Spurs as the NBA season heads down the home stretch. Healthy and winning with a blend of defense and an offense with the two quality options of Dwight Howard and James Harden, the Rockets are more and more looking like the team to beat in the NBA West. Houston will face Portland at home Sunday before travelling to face Oklahoma City in a critical match up on Tuesday 3/11. A couple Rockets wins would not only serve as a sign of things to come playoff time, but would create a tight race at the top of the West between the teams and the Spurs.
Oklahoma City has struggled of late, losing 4 of their last 7 which included giving up 125 points to the Clippers and 128 to the Suns. The Thunder seemed to be trying to find their identity again after the return of Russell Westbrook. The Rockets, on the other hand, have hit their groove and won 14 of their last 16, beating Miami and San Antonio during that stretch. The NBA betting odds at TopBet Sportsbook will be released soon, but I would not be shocked to see the Rockets and Thunder match up as a toss up (or near it) come Tuesday, especially if the Thunder struggle against the Lakers on Sunday. The smart money should erase any natural home court advantage for OKC.
Before anyone gets any ideas that the Rockets will easily take care of business in OKC, remember they were whipped by the Thunder twice this year, by 31 and by 12. Westbrook didn't play in either of those games, but it is difficult say whether he will be a help Tuesday considering the the Thunder's current chemistry issues. At the very least, the Thunder have the psychological edge of going 2-0 against Howard and Harden.
Who do you like in this clash of titans in the West? What do you think the spread should be? Do you think the winner has a leg up in the West over the other? Over the Spurs and Clippers?