The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder are tied 2-2 in their first-round playoff matchup. After four games, the Rockets are ready to seal the deal.
A lot can happen in five days. Five days ago, the Houston Rockets had a 2-0 series lead on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Five days ago, a healthy Chris Paul looked like a worse sidekick than an injured Russell Westbrook. Five days ago, the Rockets were headed into the second round of playoffs. But that was five days ago and a lot can happen in five days.
The commanding 2-0 lead the Rockets built has disappeared as a rejuvenated Thunder team reminded everyone why they were an upset pick, to begin with. Their dreaded three-guard lineup finally found its groove and Houston endured a brutal shooting slump to hand Game 4 away and turn the series into a best of three. As bad as the Rockets have looked the past two games, they’re well-positioned to take two of three. Here are the top five reasons they’ll still win the series.
5. The Houston Rocket have been better throughout the series.
The sports media loves to overreact. They did it after the Rockets went up 2-0, and they did it again when the Thunder evened it at 2-2. The series may be tied, but the Rockets have been the better team. Point differential is better at predicting future outcomes than a win-loss record.
Why? Well, to win, you need to score more points than your opponent. Usually, the two look very similar, which is why the Bucks had both the best record and best point differential this season. Through four games, the Rockets have outscored the Thunder 455-442 for an average of 3.25 points a game.
That difference may seem small, but a 3.25 point differential would have been the seventh-best in the league, while -3.25 would be between the Bulls and Pistons. The Rockets have played like a playoff team, and the Thunder have looked lottery-bound in the eyes of point differential.
So while the Rockets might be even in the standings with the Thunder, they have been the far more impressive team.
Next: No. 4 & 3