OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (60-22) vs. HOUSTON ROCKETS (45-37) ...  
Schedule: April 21, April 24, April 27, April 29, May 1, May 3, May 5 / OKC won the regular season series 2-1


KEYS

FOR OKLAHOMA CITY:

- Perimeter defense. The Rockets love the three ball and showed it by hoisting almost 29 per game with a respectable 37 percent of accuracy. They are a perimeter oriented team that relies on one of four players – James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino – igniting a fire that opens up avenues for their interior players to score interior points. The Thunder must stop Harden's and Lin's penetration to limit wide open shots.

- Dominate the paint. The pressure is on Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison to compete on the offensive glass. If the Rockets somehow attempt just as many field goals as the Thunder with Harden's ability to get to the free throw line, watch out!

- Foul trouble. Harden led the league in free throw attempts. That means someone is picking up fouls and it's usually the help the defender and not the player guarding him. Durant and Westbrook better beware the beard or they could be saddled with two fouls early. Oklahoma City will need to communicate consistently when Harden and Lin are in attack mode.

- Feed Kevin Martin. It's obvious Durant and Westbrook will score in bunches, but Martin will need consistent touches.

FOR HOUSTON:

- Defending Durant. How do you defend arguably the best offensive player in the league? Answer: You don't. But you can limit his touches by overplaying him. You have to be extremely physical with a plethora of defenders before the Thunder reach the bonus. The Rockets will need to mix up defensive looks against Durant because he has become extremely cerebral at recognizing defenses. 

- The Rockets must force the Thunder to play a frenetic Pace and refuse to relent. The key is to get Westbrook and Durant in a shooting contest so they forget about Martin and interior players. That might be the Rockets only chance to steal a game in Oklahoma City.
- Defensive rebound. Omer Asik is a rebounding machine (11.7) and if he can hold his own on the glass and the rest of the Rockets compete, they could make games very interesting down the stretch – thus giving Harden a chance to work some serious magic.

- Protecting Harden. He will be Public Enemy No. 1 and you better believe the Thunder will not want to be embarrassed seeing Harden go for 40-plus points like the last time they met. Houston has to do a good job of floor spacing, then knocking down open opportunities.

STATISTICS
SEASON
OKC HOU
105.7 Points scored 106.0
96.5 Points allowed 102.5
48.1 FG% 46.1
37.7 3P FG% 36.6
82.8 FT% 75.4
43.6 Rebounds 43.4
21.4 Assists 23.2
7.6 Blocks 4.4
8.3 Steals 8.3
625 Accumulated playoff games 133
HEAD-TO-HEAD
OKC HOU
121.0 Points scored 104.7
19.7 Turnovers 19.3
50.0 FG% 43.1
41.8 3P FG% 36.9
86.1 FT% 71.3
49.0 Rebounds 38.7
24.3 Assists 21.3
10.3 Blocks 2.7
10.7 Steals 12.3
MATCHUPS
PG SG SF PF C BENCH
Russell WestbrookJeremy Lin JR SmithJames Harden Kevin DurantChandler Parsons Serge IbakaDonatas Motejiunas Kendrick PerkinsOmer Asik Kevin DurantCarlos Delfino
PROJECTION: THUNDER IN FIVE.