The NBA playoffs have arrived, and here's 10 things to watch

Tricia Pearson
April 20, 2017

A look at the Western Conference offers one of the best clashes to look forward to: the Houston Rockets meeting the Oklahoma City Thunder.

With under 10 seconds left in the game, the Thunder found themselves with the ball down two. After a strong 15 points in the first half, the giveaways piled up as the All-Star searched for help, ultimately ending the night with 22 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and nine turnovers.

HollywoodLifers, who are you rooting for to take the series, the Rockets or the Thunder? Houston shot 49.5 percent from the floor despite missing 23 of 33 3-pointers. At one time, maybe it was Wilson or maybe it was some other [expletive], Rock.

"We saw some things we definitely need to improve on going into Game 2", Washington coach Scott Brooks said. The game is so much different and the players are much bigger.

In his first-round playoff meeting with fellow MVP candidate James Harden, Russell Westbrook didn't even outplay the Houston Rockets' other starting guard, Patrick Beverley.

One of the keys to Houston's late-game rout was the disparity in second-chance points.

Needless to say, if the Thunder are unable to grab more rebounds, limit second chance opportunities and step up offensively, then this will be a hard-fought four or five game series. Even though Harden is the ex-OKC teammate that Westbrook actually likes these days, once these two teams get on the hardwood, everyone on the Rockets is his enemy, including The Beard.

"I thought you guys competed well".

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But when you factor in that this was a playoff game and that Beverley was guarding the man who might win MVP, it's hard to deny that this was the Rockets' most-pernicious player's greatest game ever. It wasn't until Harden started attacking the rim that he caught a rhythm, and his back-to-back driving layups cut the Thunder's lead to 29-27 entering the second quarter.

"Nah, it was a legal screen", Beverley said. "He sees so many bodies every night and so many double teams".

Houston and Utah have both improved from a year ago; Houston was an 8, and Utah, at 9, didn't qualify for postseason play.

Westbrook became the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double by scoring an NBA-best 31.6 points a game, with 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists.

The reason Beverley got rocked on that Adams screen is because he picked up Westbrook full-court. The Rockets did a nice job of pressuring Westbrook at the point of the attack but also invited him to press a little bit in transition and attack without a plan of escape. "Tonight he made shots, he rebounded the ball at a high level, he's just Pat tonight".

NOTES: Thunder F Andre Roberson made three 3-pointers in a game just three times in the regular season. He finished 4 of 6 from behind the arc Sunday after going 3 of 3 in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Rockets were eighth in the league in rebounding, but just league average getting defensive rebounds.

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