The Oklahoma City Thunder begins life without Russell Westbrook when they visit the Houston Rockets in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series. Game time is 9:30 PM ET at the Toyota Center in Houston. The Thunder opened as a -5 point favorite but the number has dropped to -1 because of the injury to Westbrook. The total opened at 211.5 and is now 207.5 meaning that Westbrook is worth four points.
The OKC point guard will require surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee. The team said that Westbrook suffered his injury in the second quarter of Game 2 against the Rockets on Wednesday.
With a healthy Westbrook, the Rockets weren’t given much of a chance to upset the Thunder. However things have turned in Houston’s favor which won’t mean anything of they don’t get a sweep in Houston. A loss in Game 3 would make it near impossible for the Rockets.
Houston lost the first two games of the best-of-seven set but kept it close in Game 2, losing 105-102. The final score might have been a moral victory but the Rockets won’t take it, not after blowing a 15-point fourth quarter lead.
Feel the Thunder
Even before his injury Westbrook was struggling with his shot going 10 for 25. Kevin Durant was even worse going 10 for 26. The Rockets played a zone most of the contest. The defensive alignment also forced the Thunder into several uncharacteristic turnovers.
Reggie Jackson will move into the starting lineup with Westbrook sidelined. In limited minutes, Jackson averaged 7.5 points in the first two games of the series. Derek Fisher is likely to see extended minutes and there is the possibility that Kevin Durant will do some of the ball handling.
Houston has a problem
Whether or not Houston has point guard Jeremy Lin available will be decided prior to Game 3. Lin missed the second half of Game 2 and underwent an MRI exam on Thursday that revealed he has a bruised muscle in his chest. Lin was 4-of-14 shooting for 11 total points in the first two games. His absence would slightly negate the loss of Westbrook.
Cole started off as a part time handicapper and a full time computer programmer. After developing a computer program that consistently provided winners in NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports Cole went into full time handicapping. The computer program and his knack for winners made him a rising star in the handicapping world. His complex computer program based on algorithms and analytical calculations have led to a 60% ATS rate.