Wednesday night features two important games for playoff standing. First, the Brooklyn Nets will try and maintain control of the 6th seed in the East, while the Thunder look to clear competition for the 4th seed in the West. Then, the scorching Houston Rockets will look to sweep the season series against Golden State, pulling them one step closer to the 2nd seed in the West.
Game 1: Oklahoma City Thunder (41-26) host Brooklyn Nets (36-33)
Behind impressive point guard play from both D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, the Brooklyn Nets find themselves in playoff position nearing the end of the season. Currently in sole command of 6th place, it’s unlikely the Nets will move up, but they can avoid Milwaukee and Toronto if they hold onto 6th. For the Thunder, after losing control of the 3rd spot to Houston, they now look to reclaim lost ground and stave off Portland to regain the 3rd seed.
After beating Portland on the 7th, it seemed OKC was gaining ground on Houston to reclaim the 3rd seed. After losing to the Clippers the following game, OKC seemed a little lost with Paul George not looking too good in his return from injury. The Thunder did pick it up with a win over Utah, but now look a little shaky heading into Wednesday’s matchup.
- 22-9 at home this season.
- 1-0 against Brooklyn this season.
- Are just 4-7 in their last 11 games played.
- Paul George is shooting just 30% from the field and 23% from three in his four games since returning from injury.
- Russell Westbrook has stepped up in place of George’s poor performances, averaging 32.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 6 assists in those same four games on an efficient 51% shooting from the field and 45% from downtown.
Brooklyn has seemed to take the league by surprise this year, finding themselves in comfortable playoff position with right around a month left of regular season action. Russell and Dinwiddie have led the Nets to some impressive wins, making them a legitimate threat every night. The Nets come into tonight looking to further distance themselves from Detroit in the standings.
- 15-17 on the road this season.
- Winners of their last 4 games in a row.
- Off the bench, Spencer Dinwiddie is averaging 17.4 points and 5 assists in 28 minutes. If not for Lou Williams, Dinwiddie would be receiving heavy consideration for 6MOY.
- Playing the first game in a lengthy 7-game road trip, during which they play 5 playoff teams.
- DeMarre Carroll will not play against the Thunder. Carroll is averaging 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Nets in 25 minutes per game.
Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder, -7.5
This game should end in a victory for the Thunder. The Nets aren’t a great road team, and the Thunder need to pick up momentum if they want to challenge for the 3rd seed. Westbrook has been playing great lately, but look for PG13 to snap out of his shooting slump and blow this game wide open. The Nets do have a shot, but it won’t be enough. Expect OKC to win tonight.
Game 2: Houston Rockets (42-25) host Golden State Warriors (45-21)
Now one of the most-anticipated games of the season, the streaking Rockets take on the slumping Warriors, who are missing an MVP in tonight’s matchup. Houston has won 9 games in a row, while the Dubs are just 4-6 in their last 10 games. With KD out for tonight’s matchup, the travelling Warriors find themselves in a tough game against James Harden and the Rockets.
The 2018-2019 season has been quite a wild ride for Houston. It began with a short tenure with Carmelo Anthony, then CP3 and Capela were out with injuries, and then James Harden went on an insane scoring tirade. He’s still on a scoring tirade, on pace to average more than 35 points a game this season. With CP3 coming back into shape, it seems the Rockets have returned to last year’s form, making them a genuine threat to beat the Warriors in the playoffs.
- 24-9 at home this season.
- The Rockets somehow lead the season series, 3-0 against Golden State.
- Won 9 games in a row, starting with a victory in Golden State on 2/23, and other wins against Boston, Toronto, and Philadelphia.
- Harden has cooled down a bit, averaging just2 points on 39% shooting from the field and 29% from three in the last five games.
- Paul has also stagnated lately, averaging just 8.6 points and 8.6 assists on 25% shooting from the field and 27% from three in the same last five games.
The Warriors have looked anything but good this season, a real mystery for the average fan. They’ve got 5 all stars, why aren’t they doing better? Exactly. The Dubs are underperforming, and it seems like everyone has someone to blame but themselves. Following a loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Warriors are in a dark spot, especially with Durant out with injury.
- 21-11 on the road this season.
- Kevin Durant is out with an ankle injury. Durant is averaging 27.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.7 assists on 51% shooting this season.
- Only 4-6 in their last 10 games, including an embarrassing loss to the league-wide 2nd-worst Suns in their last game.
- Curry has struggled lately, averaging just 23.8 points on 39% shooting from the field and 33% from downtown.
- After missing two games, Klay Thompson is on fire, averaging 33.5 points on 52% shooting and 50% shooting from 3.
Pick: Houston Rockets -2
This was an easy choice, despite the fact that I’m picking against Golden State. Durant is out and Curry is in a slump, but Klay is red-hot right now. I don’t think Thompson is enough for the dysfunctional Warriors to steal a game against the Rockets right now. Houston is simply on another level, and beat this Warriors team with KD in late February. Now without him, I don’t see the Warriors keeping up. Unless Houston falls flat from three, it’ll be a long night for the Dubs in Houston. Expect Houston to win.