March 22, 2016, 12:06 pm
There are only four games slated for Tuesday, March 22nd and let’s just say these games are better suited for fantasy more than reality.
The Honorable Mentions: The Heat will try to hold on to the third seed in the Eastern Conference as they face a depleted Pelicans team, and the Hornets will look to take down the Nets in Brooklyn.
Now for Tuesday’s ‘must watch’ game of the night.
Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Tip Time: 8 pm (est)
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Player Matchup: Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook
The Rockets (35-35) are walking a thin line between moving up in the standings or falling out of the playoff picture. Houston sits just a half game behind the Blazers for the sixth seed, but only lead the ninth-place Jazz by one game.
The team’s star player, James Harden, is listed as ‘questionable’ after missing practice on Monday due to an ankle injury he sustained in Saturday’s game against the Hawks. However, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle says that Harden “seemed expected to play.”
“We’ve got to win some games – it’s that simple,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Obviously, winning them all is the objective and is the goal. (This) will be a big game.”
If the Rockets want any chance of beating the Thunder, they will need the league’s second leading scorer on the court. Harden has torched his former team twice this season with averages of 35 points, six rebounds, five assists, 1.5 blocks and 2.5 steals in those two meetings.
Houston’s center Dwight Howard has been in the headlines lately for using the product Stickum. (Stickum is a product that helps players get a better grip on the ball.) The NBA has not penalized him for using the league’s illegal product, and he will be available for Tuesday’s contest.
“I don’t know why people are making a big deal out of it,” Howard said to the Houston Chronicle. “I do it every game. It’s not a big deal. I ain’t tripping.”
The 11-year veteran has been playing well through the month of March, averaging 12.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per game while shooting 63.8 percent from the field. In the previous two games against the Thunder, Howard has struggled with averages of 12 points and eight rebounds per contest, while only shooting 42.1 percent from the floor.
Houston has gone 5-5 through the month of March and the main reason for their mediocrity has been their inability to stop their opponents from scoring. In the past 10 games, Houston has surrendered an average of 106 points to their opponents.
The Thunder (48-22), who started the month of March struggling, have now gone on a four-game winning streak and sit comfortably in the third seed with a 3.5 game lead over the Clippers. After taking a hard fall on his elbow during Saturday’s game against the Pacers, Kevin Durant is expected to play in Tuesday’s contest.
Durant has been amazing this season, averaging 28 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. Through the month of March, the eight-year veteran has taken his game to another level averaging 28.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.
(Be sure to stay close to Hoop-Ball.com for updates on the status of tonight’s players.)
Russell Westbrook is arguably my favorite player to watch in the league. Over his last 10 games, Westbrook has averaged 20.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 10.9 assists per contest. In the two meetings against the Rockets, Westbrook has averaged 25.5 points, nine rebounds and 12.5 assists per game.
The Thunder have been on a scoring tear over their four-game winning streak, putting up an average of 121 points per game. They have, however, also given up 102.7 points per game to their opponents. If you are someone who enjoys a fast-paced, up-and-down game with very little defense, then this is the game for you.