James Harden and the Houston Rockets take on Chris Paul and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of a best-of-seven series on Saturday evening. After the Rockets took a commanding 2-0 series lead, the Thunder responded with back-to-back wins, setting the stage for a pivotal matchup with control of the series on the line. Luc Mbah a Moute (knee) is out for the Rockets, though Russell Westbrook (quad) is expected to return after missing the first four games of the series.
Tip-off for this 2020 NBA Playoffs matchup is 6:30 p.m. ET in Orlando. William Hill lists Houston as the five-point favorite in the Rockets vs. Thunder odds, while the over-under for total points scored is 227. Before making any Thunder vs. Rockets picks, be sure to see the NBA predictions from SportsLine’s proven computer model.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it’s already returned over $4,700 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks this season. It entered the week on a blistering 59-33 run on top-rated NBA spread picks, returning almost $2,300 on those picks alone. It’s also 7-2 on top-rated picks since the NBA’s restart in July. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.
- Rockets vs. Thunder spread: Rockets -5
- Rockets vs. Thunder over-under: 227 points
- Rockets vs. Thunder money line: Rockets -215, Thunder +185
- HOU: The Rockets are 4-6 against the spread in the last 10 games
- OKC: The Thunder are 5-5 against the spread in the last 10 games
Why the Rockets can cover
Though Houston’s offense hasn’t been quite as explosive as its baseline would indicate, the Rockets are a tremendous offensive team. Harden is one of the game’s best creators, averaging 32.0 points, 8.8 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game in the series, and he creates a matchup nightmare for any defense. Houston is also flush with perimeter shooting, with Ben McLemore, Jeff Green, Robert Covington and Danuel House all shooting 39 percent or better from 3-point range in the series.
Defensively, the Rockets have done an admirable job securing the defensive glass, grabbing 75 percent of available rebounds and overcoming a perceived weakness. Houston is also tremendous when it comes to creating turnovers, ranking in the top five of the NBA in the regular season and forcing a giveaway on 14.7 percent of possessions in the series.
Why the Thunder can cover
Throughout the season, the Thunder have exceeded expectations, and that continues with their performance in this playoff series. Oklahoma City’s defense has been particularly noteworthy, especially in Game 3 and Game 4 victories. Against a high-powered Houston offense, the Thunder allowed just 1.02 points per possession in those two contests, posting an 86 percent defensive rebound rate.
Luguentz Dort is an ace-level defender on Harden, and Billy Donovan’s team is able to beat the Rockets on the other end with quality guard play. Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder give the Thunder a trio of quality options against Houston’s switch-heavy scheme, and Oklahoma City ranks in the top seven of the NBA in turnover rate and free-throw rate, dating back to the regular season.
How to make Rockets vs. Thunder picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning under on the total, with Paul and Eric Gordon projected to fall short of their playoff scoring averages. The model also says one side of the spread hits in almost 60 percent of simulations. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Thunder vs. Rockets? And which side of the spread cashes almost 60 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Rockets vs. Thunder spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up over $4,700 on its top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.