In what shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, Charles Barkley chose the Thunder to defeat the Houston Rockets in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
The Houston Rockets suffered a pretty big blow when they discovered that Russell Westbrook would miss at least a few games in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The absence of the superstar is understandably making fans nervous, seeing as he’s a crucial piece for the Rockets if they want to accomplish their goal of taking an NBA title back to Houston.
As Rockets beat writer Jonathan Feigen reported on Thursday, the team expects Westbrook to be unavailable for “at least the first few playoff games” as he recovers from his quad strain. The injury comes at the worst possible time, as the Rockets are set to tipoff their first round series against Chris Paul and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday evening.
NBA analysts are already weighing in on how the series will go, including Hall of Famer and frequent “hot take” giver Charles Barkley. During the postgame show of the Blazers’ play-in clincher, Shaquille O’Neal asked Barkley who he thinks will win the series.
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“How many games is Westbrook going to miss. Two? The Oklahoma City Thunder,” said Barkley. “The wording was ‘at least the first few’, ” said Ernie Johnson.
Given the timetable the Rockets gave for Westbrook’s return, the implication is that he will probably miss at least two games, which means Charles believes Houston is headed for a first round exit.
“Without Westbrook, I’m going with the Oklahoma City Thunder,” restated Charles. Given Barkley’s track record, this might actually be a good sign for Rockets fans.
While he was a monster on the court, his predictions as an analyst have been far from reliable for years.
He’s also thrown some heat Houston’s way often, including the bizarre opinion that a championship with the Rockets, while he was on the team, wouldn’t have counted.
Without Russell for the foreseeable future, the Rockets indeed have their work cut out for them. While Chris Paul enjoyed his time in Houston, there’s nothing quite like knocking out the team that traded you away.
James Harden is going to need to go into God mode while the supporting cast picks up their game for the Rockets to scrape their way past the pesky Thunder without their star guard, even if it’s just for a couple of games.