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Rockets Take 3-2 Lead Over Thunder in Russell Westbrook’s Return
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The Houston Rockets will look to close out their series with the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 on Monday night. The two teams split the first four games of the series, but the Rockets got All-Star guard Russell Westbrook back in Game 5, and his presence helped propel them to a 114-80 win and a 3-2 lead. Westbrook had missed the first four games of the series with a quad injury, and the Rockets had greatly missed his ability to get out in transition and generate offense. 

Now that Houston is healthy, it should close out the series. However, the Thunder have exceeded expectations all season, and they will look to do so again, and in turn push the series to a seventh game. If Oklahoma City is going to force a Game 7, it will need major production from its guard trio of Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder. 

Here’s everything you need to know about Game 6 between the Rockets and Thunder.     

Viewing information

  • Date: Monday, Aug. 31 | Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • Location: Disney Wide World of Sports — Orlando, Florida
  • TV: TNT
  • Odds: Rockets -5 | Over/Under: 226.5 (via William Hill Sportsbook)

Storylines

Rockets: The Rockets are finally at full strength, and that is bad news for the Thunder. With Westbrook back in the rotation, they are back to being one of the most dangerous and explosive teams in the league on the offensive end, and it will be extremely tough for the Thunder to keep up with their output. Plus, with a potential matchup against the top-seeded Lakers in the second round looming, the Rockets will want to close this series out and in turn they’ll do everything they can to avoid a Game 7. 

Thunder: It seems like the Thunder have been fighting an uphill battle all series. They fell behind 2-0 early on, and then they were able to fight back to even the series up at two games apiece. Now, after a tough loss in Game 5, their backs are up against the wall again. With Westbrook back in action, the Rockets are at their most dangerous, and it’s safe to say that the former league MVP will be motivated not to lose to his former franchise in the first round. If they want to push the series to a decisive Game 7, the Thunder will have to play near-perfect ball on both ends of the floor.  As they have all series, the Thunder will need to lean on Chris Paul’s experience and decision making down the stretch, and hope that other key contributors like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder continue to make shots. Otherwise, their feel-good season will come to an end. 

Prediction

With Westbrook back, the Rockets are the clear favorites in this one. The Thunder just don’t have the personnel to keep up with the duo of Westbrook and Harden on the offensive end. Plus, with that matchup against the Lakers looming, Houston will want to avoid a Game 7. Head coach Mike D’Antoni understands that urgency, and he’ll express it to his team. Pick: Rockets -5

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