Baker Mayfield is a big Russell Westbrook fan

Thunder/Rockets: Round 1 Schedule

But arguably the most unexpected standout season came from Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas. The Thunder are in the playoffs because he played this well.

Westbrook said the fact that Oklahoma City is matching up Harden does add a little something to the matchup.

Golden State against Cleveland no longer looks like the certain finish. While the regular season saw the third-seeded Houston Rockets take three of four games from the Oklahoma City Thunder, it'd be almost impossible to count out Westbrook and his never-say-die attitude.

Westbrook wasn't the only one who sat, either.

Now one of them will be gone by May.

One of the Thunder's biggest weaknesses this season has been their performances against teams who are in the bottom half of each respective conference.

OKC have a much greater ability to dial up the defence, and if perimeter-stopper Andre Roberson can limit the brilliance of Harden and Adams and co. can pack the paint, crash the glass, and limit those second-chance opportunities, then they're more than capable of wresting the advantage.

"Yes, I do see his minutes going up in the playoffs", Donovan said. The up-and-down style the team plays is conducive to high-scoring affairs but the development of Harden into an all-around player instead of just a volume scorer has been key to the Rockets' resurgence.

The Clippers (3) and Grizzlies (7) both stayed the same.

With Serge Ibaka on an expiring contract, the Thunder made a play to bring in Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and also secured the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis.

The East openers are Boston against Chicago, and No. 4 Washington against fifth-seeded Atlanta.

JOHN YANG: When you were in Oklahoma City with Westbrook the other day, you charted The chant, "MVP". All three may have been worthy MVP winners this season had Durant not hurt his knee in late February.

Harden emerged as an MVP candidate, leading the Rockets to a league-high 117 points per game since the start of December.

In one corner, there's James Harden, the inventive left-handed assassin that's a threat from every spot on the court.

Russel Westbrook has had a season for the ages. When applied and focused on the defensive end, James is inarguably one of the best defenders in the league and can defend all five positions on the floor. It often works, but is it easier to game plan for in a seven-game series than on random nights in the regular season schedule? I think the Rockets are the best team without their star, therefore making him less "valuable" in the confusing rhetoric of the award that, throughout all sports, should be called "Most Outstanding Player" because value is such a subjective term. The graphic below shows Bing's full playoff predictions, including the predicted number of games per series.

RAPTORS READY? Toronto reached the East finals last season in its best season ever and loaded up for another run, fortifying the frontcourt with trades for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker. The Cavs were a.500 team over their last 46 games, so the Celtics have the top seed, against a Bulls team that got better after they lost Dwyane Wade, amid rumors of serious antipathy and trade rumors around star guard Jimmy Butler. But to face King James, the Raptors have to stop the Greek Freak, and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo will be a handful. Without Kawhi Leonard, the San Antonio Spurs still make the playoffs. This meeting features brothers Pau and Marc Gasol going against each other.

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