The Eastern Conference has already ruled every first-round playoff matchup, while in the Wild West there are still some issues to resolve. However, one of the duels that have already been confirmed promises to be a very close battle that will include an added attraction fruit of the common past that unites both franchises. The tie between Houston rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder threatens to be « very hot. »

The relationship of Chris paul and James Harden never quite got married. Moments of love followed by very marked episodes of hatred and grief. The first year together ended with the elimination in the Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. But in the second the debacle was complete: the link was completely broken, Paul’s form went downhill and James harden cut to the chase. « Either him or me » became La Barba’s demand.

With no possibility of repair and with the locker room visibly broken, in Houston they opted for the easiest solution considering the scenario: transferring Chris Paul to Oklahoma City in an operation that brought with him to Russell westbrook. A movement that generated a lot of skepticism for the possible incompatibility of the new base with Harden.

The doubts were confirmed at first. The two stars did not finish carburating and it was evident that they performed better together than separately. In Texas they solved the ballot with an even more risky move: transferring to Clint capela, surround the shooting duo and bet blindly on an extreme version of small-ball. This experiment is still in beta, but for now it has proven to be a real nuisance for rivals. And the Thunder will be the first stumbling block to the Finals, the Rockets’ real goal. Featuring two of the last three MVPs of the season, a bet exacerbated by the exterior pitch and interior bolts converted as P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington, Mike D’Antoni It has the necessary ingredients to surprise. Or to crash at the first change. The first setback is already served: Westbrook will miss the first games due to injury.

For their part, Thunder have starred in one of the biggest surprises of the season. Nobody gave a penny for them at the end of last summer. Now, they have finished the regular season in fifth position in the West after taking advantage of the slump in the game starring the Utah Jazz and the irregularity of the Dallas Mavericks.

Chris Paul, third in contention from that last episode, is enjoying a second youth with the Thunder. In Oklahoma City, Billy Donovan has come up with a promising project that combines the experience of seniority and the hunger of youth in just the right measure.

The base itself, Stevens Adams and Danilo Gallinari make up the iron curtain of the fledgling team, establishing themselves as the leaders of the bench and who provide the balance between attack and defense. But the most interesting is found outside of this veteran trident. The emergent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was another of the aces that Sam Presti took from the other great operation that confirmed the complete renovation of the project: the transfer of Paul George.

The shooting guard has proven to be a fundamental pillar in the future of the team and an emerging NBA star. And his adaptation to the team and his teammates, incredible. The Thunder present one of the most efficient backcourts in the entire league. Precisely where its great danger lies. The trident formed by Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a Dennis Schröder A strong candidate to be awarded the Sixth Man of the Year award, he has a spectacular offensive ratio: 127.1 points per 100 possessions in the 401 minutes they have shared the track. A real madness.

In addition, young people have taken advantage of the rest and the dosage of minutes and responsibilities to take a step forward. Players like Darius bazley and Luguentz Dort have signed a big bubble and their impact on the team may be greater than that of a mere role player.

Be that as it may, the confrontation between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder will be marked by the bet of very direct games, vertical and lovers of high scoring rates. A delight for fans of this sport.