Houston Rockets: 3 Keys to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder

N.B. Lindberg
Mar 21, 2021; Houston, TX, USA;  Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kenrich Williams (34) and Houston
Mar 21, 2021; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kenrich Williams (34) and Houston / Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
2 of 4
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

Houston Rockets key to beat the Thunder #3: Slow down SGA

The Thunder’s roster, overall, is far worse than the Rockets. They’re a team of young players with dubious NBA futures. Top to bottom they might have the least NBA quality players. However, they’ll enter their matchup against the Rockets with the best player. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a bonafide stud. He can create and make just about any shot. He can set up his teammates for quality looks. He is an offensive system all on his own. If Gilgeous-Alexander played for a more glamorous franchise, he’d be one of the most high-profile young players in the entire league. Simply put, he blends offensive volume and efficiency at a near superstar level. 

The Rockets, and the entire NBA, know this. The Thunder’s only hope, night in and night out, is for Gilgeous-Alexander to carry them to victory like Forrest Gump did for Lt. Dan. For the Rockets to win, they need to slow down Gilgeous-Alexander. 

Asking Jalen Green or Kevin Porter Jr to defend Gilgeous-Alexander one-on-one is a losing proposition. The Rockets need to start either Jae’Sean Tate or David Nwaba and have them hound Gilgeous-Alexander from the start. Players of his quality cannot be stopped. However, if they’re forced to work for every bucket from the opening tip, come the fourth quarter, they can lack the juice to push their team over the top.