Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said at Tuesday’s team practice. “I just told them to enjoy the moment, This is weird in NBA history [at the bubble]. Seventh game. It’s all on the line. We should be foaming at the mouth, can’t wait to play tomorrow night.”
The Rockets keep delivering blows, and the Thunder keep bouncing back in the first round series between the two teams. The Rockets took an early 2-0 lead in the series, but then the Thunder responded by winning two straight and tying up the series at two games apiece. Then the Rockets won Game 5 to go up 3-2, just for the Thunder to take Game 6 and in turn force a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday night.
The Rockets have Russell Westbrook back in the fold, but he made some major mistakes down the stretch of Game 6 that ultimately helped to tip the game in favor of the Thunder. The Rockets will need him to be better in Game 7 if they want to move on to the second round. As for the Thunder, they’re now just one win away from advancing thanks largely to the consistently clutch play of Chris Paul. If Paul can continue to make big plays when they matter most, the Thunder could pull off the first round upset over the Rockets.
The winner of the series will go on to face off against the top-seeded Lakers in the second round. Here’s everything you need to know about Game 7 between the Rockets and Thunder.
- Date: Wednesday, Sept. 2 | Time: 9 p.m. ET
- Location: Disney Wide World of Sports — Orlando, Florida
- TV: ESPN I Stream: FuboTV (try for free)
- Odds: Rockets -5.5 | Over/Under: 219 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
Rockets: The Rockets won’t have any excuse if they fail to close out this series. They’re the deeper and more talented team on paper, and they have two former league MVPs on their roster, while the Thunder have exactly zero. This Game 7 will have major implications for the Rockets franchise as a whole. If they fail to advance, the team will very likely move on from head coach Mike D’Antoni, whose contract expires after the season. If they’re able to advance, perhaps D’Antoni will get a new deal, but there’s almost no way that will happen if they fall to the lower-seeded Thunder.
Thunder: The Thunder have continued to surprise people this season. After losing Russell Westbrook and Paul George over the offseason, few expected Oklahoma City to even be in the hunt for a playoff spot, let alone for them to clinch the fifth spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Now, thanks largely to the play of Paul, the Thunder are one win away from moving on to the second round. At this point, the Thunder have to feel like they have nothing to lose, as they’ve already exceeded expectations for the season. That doesn’t mean that they’re satisfied though. Instead, we can expect to see a Thunder team that is motivated to pull off a major first round upset.