Two of the top candidates for league MVP lead their red-hot teams into battle when the Oklahoma City Thunder visit the Houston Rockets on Sunday in what could be a preview of a first-round playoff matchup. Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook needs six triple-doubles to match Oscar Robertson’s all-time record for a season (47) and Houston’s James Harden is averaging a robust 39.5 points and 12.3 assists the last four games.
Harden boasts four triple-doubles to go along with three double-doubles in his last seven games to make his MVP case as the Rockets won six times, and he is second only to Westbrook (31.2) in scoring at 29.5 while leading the lead in assists (11.3). “I think so, but I try not to think about it too much,” Harden told reporters when asked if he is making a strong run at the MVP. “I just try to do my job at a high level and win games. That’s all I can do.” Westbrook played reduced minutes for the second straight game, but still registered a triple-double with 18 points on 6-of-6 shooting, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in Wednesday’s win over Philadelphia. “I’ve been watching some film, trying to pick my spots better,” Westbrook told reporters. “I found ways to continue to get my teammates involved throughout the game and it just happened that way.”
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The point spread for this one opened with the Rockets -6. After a brief stop at -5.5 the line returned to the opening number on Sunday morning. The total hit the board at 233 and was dropped a full point to 232. Check out the complete line history here.
Thunder – No injuries to report
Rockets – PF Ryan Anderson (Doubtful, ankle)
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Thunder (-2.7) – Rockets (-9.6) + home court (-3) = Rockets -9.9
ABOUT THE THUNDER (41-30 SU, 40-30-1 ATS, 34-26-1 O/U): Westbrook should be well rested after averaging just 27.5 minutes the last two contests – seven below his season average – and has gotten strong support from Victor Oladipo during Oklahoma City’s 6-1 surge. Oladipo is averaging 18.3 points on 50 percent shooting – 60.6 from 3-point range – in eight games since returning from back spasms. Enes Kanter has also upped his production while averaging 15.5 points on 55.9 percent shooting in March and 16.8 on 55.6, respectively, in the last five contests while fellow center Steven Adams is shooting 66.7 percent from the field in the same span.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (50-22 SU, 41-31 ATS, 37-34-1 O/U): Harden drained 16 from 3-point range and 46-of-53 free throws in the last four games, making at least 11 field goals in each contest, and is averaging 9.5 boards in the same span. Eric Gordon (16.4) is second on the team in scoring, but some of the other top performers have been cold the last few games. Lou Williams, who is averaging 13.9 points in 14 games since being acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers, is 0-for-12 from 3-point range the last four contests while Ryan Anderson is shooting 35.7 percent from the field the past five (8-of-29 from behind the arc) and is expected to miss this one with an ankle injury.
* Thunder are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
* Rockets are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS win.
* Over is 4-1-1 in Thunder last 6 road games.
* Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Houston.
* Thunder are 1-8 ATS in the last 9 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 64 percent of the point spread wagers on Covers are siding with the home favorite Houston Rockets and 53 percent of the totals picks are on the Over. View full consensus data here.