Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder: Game 1 Injury Updates and Lineup

Published 08/18/2020, 4:30 PM EDT
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – APRIL 24: Head coach Kevin McHale of the Houston Rockets talks with James Harden #13, Patrick Beverley #12, Omer Asik #3 and Carlos Delfino #10 during a break from Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on April 24, 2013 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Thunder defeated the Rockets 105-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


The commencement of the 2020 NBA Playoffs couldn’t have been any better. It seems fair to put two evenly matched teams against each other- namely, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Both teams stand quite close to each other in the Western Conference standings, with the Rockets at the fourth seed and Thunder at the fifth.

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What makes the teams even more neutral is that the Rockets have one of the best offenses in the league but a mid-tier defense. On the other hand, Thunder has had an incredible defense so far in the league with a mediocre offense. They both lack in places where the other reigns, making it a very compelling matchup.

Houston Rockets injury updates and lineup predictions

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The Rockets had entered the Orlando bubble with a bang by winning four out of their first five matches. However, it has only been downhill since then because they consecutively lost three of their last games. Not only that, but their star point guard, Russell Westbrook has also been ruled out for the first few playoffs rounds because of his strained quadriceps.
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With that being said, the Rockets will require extra production from the other players. It is safe to say that James Harden will be that man for the Rockets. He averaged 34.3 points in the regular season. The team has a plethora of shooters to aid Harden, including Jeff Green, Robert Covington, and Ben McLemore. Houston’s Number Two scorer, Eric Gordon is also all set and healthy to play after facing a lot of Injury problems.
Thus, the lineup prediction would be Ben McLemore, James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Danuel House, and Robert Covington.

Oklahoma City Thunder injury updates and lineup predictions

OKC holds a big advantage for themselves with Westbrook missing from the Rockets lineup. They have had a decent 4-4 record in the bubble so far and have played it smartly by resting several key players prior to the matchup.
Their All-Star guard, Chris Paul knows the Rockets quite well. This is because his previous two seasons have been with the Rockets before he was traded for Russell Westbrook. Going up against his former team could be a very personal and motivating factor for Chris. Steven Adams has also done a great job in setting the defensive tone for the team, making it harder for the Rockets in the paint. But their shooting guard, Luguentz Dort has been listed out for this game due to a knee injury.
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Mike Muscala and Nerlens Noel have shown capabilities of limiting the small-ball lineup that the Rockets have been utilizing so far. On the whole, it looks like Thunder has it all in control.
The predicted lineup would be Chris Paul, Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Terrance Ferguson.

Game prediction

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This game will definitely serve a lot of juicy personal storylines and will go down to the wire. But when it comes down to statistics, the Rockets have the top scorer of the regular season, James Harden. Even though Westbrook is out, Houston has a very dynamic offense which can be tough for OKC to tackle, making the Rockets more favorable for a win.

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Yashima Bhatia

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Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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