Insider offers a breakdown of every playoff series using an expert combination of scouting from Amin Elhassan and advanced metrics from Bradford Doolittle to answer three crucial questions. Also included are predictions from the writers and the classic Log5 formula for determining matchup probabilities.
You're not going to find a more ready-made storyline in the first round than this: James Harden, the centerpiece of the season's most controversial trade, takes on the team he helped lead to the Finals last June.
Harden opened a lot of eyes in his first season with the Houston Rockets, finishing sixth in the league in wins above replacement. Unfortunately for Harden, two of the five players ahead of him are former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates: Kevin Durant (second) and Russell Westbrook (third).
One thing aficionados of fast-paced basketball can count on will be lots of points. During the three regular-season meetings, the Rockets and Thunder combined for a whopping 107 possessions per 48 minutes. Games often slow down during the postseason, but don't count on that happening in this series.
So we can bank on intrigue, fast breaks and points. As for competitiveness, we'll have to see.
Houston Rockets (8) at Oklahoma City Thunder (1)
Western Conference Playoffs