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Preview: Thunder vs. Rockets - 12/1

The Thunder returns home for a rematch against the same team it played just 48 hours prior – the Houston Rockets. Wednesday’s matchup marks the fourth and final meeting between the two teams as Houston took the 2-1 series edge on Monday with a 102-89 victory in Houston.

What to Watch

Contesting the Looks from Inside Out For the season, Houston generates the majority of its points from inside the paint and behind the 3-point line. On Monday, the story was no different as 50 of the Rockets 102 points came from the paint and 45 from deep. With aggressive guards who look to attack the paint and get out in transition, look for OKC to be sharp at the point of attack and limiting Houston’s lanes to the rim.

Christian Wood Keep an eye on how the Thunder works to limit Rockets big man Christian Wood. Houston’s leading scorer has played a key role in the team’s success during their recent stretch of victories. Over the last three games, Wood has averaged 24 points and 16 rebounds as he secured three consecutive double-doubles. On Monday, Wood logged a game-high 24 points to go alongside 21 rebounds.

Ready Reserves The Thunder’s second unit was without Kenrich Williams (right ankle sprain), Mike Muscala (right ankle soreness) and Derrick Favors (non-COVID illness) on Monday night in Houston. In their absence, rookie Tre Mann and forward Isaiah Roby stepped up and cashed in 17 points apiece off the bench to contribute to OKC’s 52 total bench points.

Despite the difference in player combinations, the Thunder’s second unit has maintained consistency as the group has now logged 30 or more points in six consecutive contests.

Notable

On Monday, the Thunder’s defense swatted away a season high 10 blocks to go with a season high 10 steals for the first time this season. Though Houston went on its runs throughout the game, the Thunder had seven different players record a block and a steal including Isaiah Roby, Tre Mann and Théo Maledon

“If you take a step back and you look at the numbers and you look at the film, there were a lot of bright spots defensively,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “I thought we made them miss and took them out of rhythm on a lot of plays.”

Quotable

Ty Jerome on getting to play Houston after dropping the game on Monday… “I think that’s the dream scenario coming off a loss. Going up against the same team the next day is ideal. That’s what everybody wants when you lose a game, you want another crack at the team. We’re hoping to make some adjustments and we’ll be ready to play.”

Scouting Report

Houston has now won three consecutive contests for the first time of its season. While Wood has played a large role in the team’s success, Kevin Porter Jr took the headlines on Monday as he logged an 11 point, 11 assist and 10 rebound double-double. The Rockets also receive large contributions from sharp-shooter Garrison Mathews who sank five triples en route to 19 points in that game. Eric Gordon chipped in 11 points and Jae’Sean Tate added 15 of his own in the contest.