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Rockets vs. Thunder: Game 2 Preview

Apr 16, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) dribbles the ball as Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) defends during the first quarter in game one of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 16, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) dribbles the ball as Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) defends during the first quarter in game one of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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After the Houston Rockets demolished the OKC Thunder in the first game of the series, they’ll look to secure a 2-0 advantage tonight at the Toyota Center.

The series between the Houston Rockets and the OKC Thunder was the most hyped first round matchup in this year’s playoffs. Two MVPs pitted against each other, dueling it out in what would surely be a back-and-forth affair. Game one didn’t quite go as planned, though.

James Harden was the best player on the court that night, followed closely by Patrick Beverley. By some measures, Russell Westbrook wasn’t even third on the list–his teammate Andre Roberson scored four fewer points than Russ on 13 fewer shot attempts.

Without getting nit-picky, the Thunder lost by 31 points, and the Rockets didn’t even play that well from a lot of standpoints. So, what does that mean for game two? Houston fans have every right to be optimistic, but probably shouldn’t get out their brooms just yet.

Rockets 118, Thunder 87

Last team to win a series after losing Game 1 by 30? Thunder, who beat Spurs last year after 32-point opening loss

— Dan Feldman (@DanFeldmanNBA) April 17, 2017

Before anyone shoves this down my throat, I know Kevin Durant isn’t on the team anymore. After getting blown out by the Spurs last postseason, he was an instrumental piece in OKC’s wild comeback. Without the best scorer in the league on the roster, the chances that happens this year are much slimmer. However, three of the four regular season games between the Rockets and Thunder came down to the wire, decided by three points or fewer. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and the Rockets will need to be sharp for tonight.

Despite losing by 31 in game one, Westbrook is as confident as ever. In an interview yesterday, he said that he can “pretty much do what [he] wants” against Beverley.

Westbrook on Patrick Beverley: "He's a good defender for their team, but I don't worry about nobody" pic.twitter.com/pWHfiFCjIk

— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) April 18, 2017

More from Space City Scoop

I hope Pat has seen that video, because he loves a challenge. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns up the intensity in game two with his defense on Russ after those comments. He’ll have to be careful with his fouls, though, because the refs will certainly want to avoid getting another David Fizdale-esque rant.

All things considered, the Rockets have no excuse not to win tonight’s game. They’re the better team, and have an MVP candidate just as deserving as OKC’s in Harden.

Look for them to continue their barrage of threes, unless the Thunder take that away from them again. If that’s the case, they’ll just go down low more often. Against Houston’s offense, it’s a pick-your-poison decision.

Next: 3-on-3: Thoughts From a Rockets and a Thunder Expert

Tip-off tonight is scheduled for 7:00 CT, and the game will be broadcast on TNT. Go Rockets!

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