OKC vs Rockets
As of right now Harden would return to OKC for the first round of the playoff game. And there is a little bit of buffer on either side of the Rockets making it unlikely they move from the seventh seed. OKC certainly can't drop below second and they are still a 1.5 games behind the Spurs. So they are kind of settling into the 2 seed. So this matchup looks like it will happen. It is a matchup that I want to see. And I want to see Harden drop 40 during one of the games.
Of course, I don't like the Rockets' chances. Aside from OKC just being better, they also have a defensive stopper at the SG position and the Rockets have a fairly mediocre defender at the SF position. That is a bad matchup. Add in that Asik's D won't be as helpful against a team that gets very few points out of their Center and that the Rockets' youth, energy and speed advantage isn't as great over OKC as it would be over a few of the other playoff teams, and this is probably the last team the Rockets want to play. Not to mention Westbrook will probably give Lin the business (though I think Lin's D will surprise a few folks once he gets a game or two of playoff experience).
But from a fan's perspective who thinks OKC trading Harden for a one-year rental of KMart and some draft picks was a terrible move, I'd like to think of management having to squirm through game after game of watching Harden be awesome. Talk about your sins coming back to haunt you.
Asik will be able to help off of Perkins often but even still they would have a very hard time guarding either Durant or Westbrook. I think Westbrook would force Lin into some of those high turnover games.
"... the Rockets have a fairly mediocre defender at the SF position"
Who?? They're going to put Parsons there. He's pretty solid as a defender.
I don't really think of him as much of a defender. He doesn't really hound people or seem to create turnovers. Though I guess Parsons isn't getting scorched. But Delfino will also get a lot of run and he isn't a good defender.
the fact that the rockets can be absolutely lights out sometimes while the thunder can have temporary lapses defensively makes this a great matchup other than the fact that harden will be going against his former team. i think one of the key factors if this matchup actually happens is which jeremy lin we are going to see. all focus will be on harden and thus lin cant be as passive as he has been all season if they want to win. if he can attack and get into the paint as well to open up for his shooters then itll be a great series.
Lin has been shooting it much better in February and March, in fact he is over 40% from three. He has been strangely bad on the boards during that period, but being a legit weapon from three completely changes his game and the entire Rockets offense. This version of Lin can drop 20 whenever he wants. Just there aren't a ton of possessions left after Harden takes his fill. And Lin is trying to be a pass first guard in any case.