The Rockets play the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday at 5:30 pm. As the Rockets are missing their star point guard, Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are not. Chris Paul for the Thunder is looking forward to playing his former team after he was traded for Russell Westbrook.
“It’ll be interesting. Two teams that know a lot about each other. We’ll prepare. Get ready. And we’ll see what’s what,” as Chris Paul told the media August 12th.
Paul was seen watching the Rockets play against the Sacramento Kings August 9th.
Coach Mike D’Antoni game plan against the Thunder is to contain Paul by guarding him with Eric Gordon. Gordon is a good wing defender because of his endurance and lateral quickness. He is also at great in pick and roll situations. Gordon defensive rating is 110.4 which is tied with Austin Rivers. Just hopefully, Gordon can stay healthy for the whole entire series because they will need his offense too.
PJ Tucker understands the seriousness of playing Paul in the playoffs. After playing with him for two years, Tucker knows the competitiveness Paul brings.
The optimistic view
“It’ll be fun. I think this is interesting. After the trade last year, knowing him, he wants his bad. I know how bad he wants this,” as Tucker told the media today. “I know he’s on the other side telling the guys, what guys gotta do, kinda give our game plan. I know how competitive he is.”
Since Westbrook is missing partial of the playoffs because of a quad injury, critics are picking the Thunder over the Rockets in six games. Rivers thinks otherwise because of the Rockets having James Harden.
“I just view it as James [Harden] being James. He’s arguably the best player in the league. The smart players follow him, and that’s what we’re trying to do now,” as Rivers told the media Sunday. “We’ve got James, we’ve got a chance.”
Harden has won the scoring title three straight times in the last three years. He has joined Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan by scoring 34 plus points per game in multiple seasons. With the three scoring titles, Harden has also joined Kevin Durant, George Gervin, and Jordan since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976 (USA Sports, Ben Dubose).