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Game 1 Sunday 9:30pm TNT

This series may be short and sweet but boy will it be fun to watch. James Harden against the team that thought they could win a title without him. If you think he won’t win a game by himself you are crazy. This is going to be an up and down high scoring affair and honestly I think the Rockets might have a chance to knock the top seed in the West off.

I know I said that the series seem to get worse as the weekend progresses but maybe Houston just might have the right match up to pull off an upset. I know it sounds crazy but allow me to explain.

During the regular season the Thunder did what you would expect vs this Rockets team. They scored a shit ton of points and their only loss came when they allowed 122 points. In the three games the Thunder averaged 121 points a game.

I know now you are thinking, you have now talked me into the Thunder even more so. But get ready to have your mind blown...

Best Bet: Houston 11-1 to win the series

Houston is going to win this series. There is a little thing called karma nobody is factoring in. That and Houston has a ton of “nobody believes in us”. As far as I am concerned they have all the pieces to knock the Thunder off four times in seven games.

OKC is going to come into this series as defending Western Conference Champs. The only problem is this team has not proved anything in the playoffs. The team with James Harden did. The Thunder without James Harden have two proven scorers. Kevin Martin will make an appearance in whatever games OKC wins, but expect him to be either hit or miss all series. The Thunder are going to expect to be able to come in, not play defense, and just be able to out ball the Rockets.

The problem with that theory is that Houston can score with the best of them. They also have the better coach. When the series starts and the game slows down a bit you are going to see a lot of Durant or Westbrook isolation, and we all know Russ can shoot you out of games. With the better coaching staff the Rockets will be able to play enough defense to force those two guys to beat them and while they have the talent to do so, they won’t be expecting to be punched back. Houston will stand toe to toe throwing haymakers, knowing they don’t have anything to lose. James Harden is good for 30+ a night because A. he is that good, and B. he is going to want some revenge.

The knock on the Thunder not signing him is that now they do not have that extra playmaker. Harden carried them throughout the playoffs last year. Not all by himself of course, but for stretches he was the playmaker of that offense. He created shots for his teammates and he scored buckets down the stretch. He did in fact win them a couple games by himself.

Without Harden the Thunder will rely too heavily on Durant and even scarier, Westbrook to create offense for themselves as well as their teammates.

The key guy in the series is Chandler Parsons. A week ago he had a walking boot on. Now he is a young guy in his first playoffs squaring off against Kevin Durant. He can’t stop him, he probably won’t be able to slow him down. But if he can get his offense going it causes Durant to have to use more of his energy on the defensive end and maybe even gets Durant into foul trouble.

Houston is going to need to get hot and stay hot but I think it is doable. And with James Harden at the helm, I think we are going to see some fireworks. Just like when Harden started off this season with all those huge games. He is going to fill the stat sheet and shock the world.

Bonus Bets:

Houston wins the series in 7 games 25-1

It is going to take 7 for this upset to happen. The Rockets are going to need to shake off their 16-25 road record and win this one to advance. James Harden knows how to win in that building. Maybe the fans were cheering for him before, but now he will take even more pleasure in sucking the air out of the building when he closes them out in round 1.

They might lose by 30 points in Game 1 but I am urging you to not read too much into that. Get ready for a long, unexpected, memorable series.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

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