The Houston Rockets have been brilliant in the NBA Playoffs so far and are on the course to reach the second round as well. With a 3-1 lead against Oklahoma City Thunder, Rockets just need one win to progress. The Rockets will look to book their berth when they host Thunder at Toyota Center on Tuesday, April 25.
Despite having a 3-1 lead, the Rockets, by no stretch of imagination, can take the Thunder easily, especially when you have the likes of Russell Westbrook for the visiting team. The Thunder might have lost three matches in the best-of-seven series, but Westbrook has been a constant threat, finishing as the top-scorer for his team in all the matches so far.
But then, it is the combined team effort of the Rockets which has helped them shine in the series. Someone or the other has always stood up for the Rockets, and that is a characteristic of a champion team. If they can continue such performances throughout the playoffs, they could be one of the teams to beat in the competition.
With the likes of James Harden, Eric Gordon and now Nene with 28 points in the last match, they look a solid team, not dependent on a single player. The Rockets have to go for the kill in front of their home fans. They cannot sit back and think of saying — there is another chance even if we lose.
If Rockets somehow lose, the series will be 3-2, and with Game 6 set to take shape at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma, anything could happen. Hence, the Thunder know they are still in it. They just need to win Game 5, and it could all change.
If Thunder lose, it would mean the end of the season. Will they want that? No.
The Thunder have to come up with their best performance in the series and be strong both offensively and defensively as well.
The problem for Thunder has been lack of support for Westbrook, who cannot do everything in the match. He needs support from his team-mates in the match. Players like Norris Cole and Taj Gibson need to stand tall in Game 5, else the Rockets will be smiling at the end of the match, and the Thunder can pack the bags for the season.
Where to watch live
Rockets vs Thunder Game 5 is scheduled for 8 pm ET (5:30 am IST, 1 am BST).