JJ Watt huge fan of Rockets guard Patrick Beverley

Muscling the Rockets still might not be enough for OKC to win. By the NBA's count, the Blazers had 46 open shots in Game 1 and made only 19 of them.

Thunder guard Victor Oladipo said the entire team needs to do a better job on the glass - not just the bigs.

Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as the host of the Locked on Thunder podcast. But Westbrook's individual brilliance doesn't always translate into Thunder victories.

Sunday night, Harden clearly won that game. They have Patrick Beverley to thank for that.

While watching James Harden cross Sonic Rings out of Kanter, know that it's on every other Thunder player for leaving their Turkish teammate in the lurch.

Patrick Beverley carried the load until James Harden rebounded from a poor shooting start, and the Houston Rockets claimed Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series with a 118-87 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night at Toyota Center. Harden had 21 points, 9 rebounds, 12 assists and 2 steals while Russ still proved to have the better game. Compared to this season which included 31.6 points per game, 10.4 assists, and 10.7 rebounds, Russ has certainly stepped up when and where needed; all season. "We just try to show him a lot of bodies, try to make it as tough as possible on him". He did the job on the glass with 14 rebounds, but he can not be so outplayed by Marcin Gortat again if Atlanta is going to head home with a split. Can't one person guard him, of course, we understand that.

So on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time), he got hit by Adams and still had a plan. It's not smart coaching to let your point guard expend that much energy on a nightly basis and OKC won't go into next season prepared to ride Westbrook again for another 82 games.

Butler scored five points during an 8-0 run midway through the final period that put the Bulls in control on an emotional night at the Boston Garden.

With the end of every National Basketball Association regular season, the MVP discussion is on almost every daily National Basketball Association headline.

Ahead of Game 1 in the Thunder's series against the Rockets, Westbrook said the basketball was his only friend on the court while discussing his friendship with former teammate and fellow MVP candidate James Harden.

They were tied at halftime and knotted at 88-88 after three quarters.

Chicago Bulls' Rajon Rondo (9) goes up to shoot in front of Boston Celtics' Kelly Olynyk (41) during the first quarter of a first-round NBA playoff basketball game Sunday, April 16, 2017, in Boston.

Every way a person can positively impact his team on a basketball court, Beverley did it in Game 1. By the end of the third, the result still seemed likely, as Westbrook added on four monstrous rebounds (bringing him to ten), and two more assists.

"He made some shots. Tonight he made shots, he rebounded the ball at a high level, he's just Pat tonight".

The 33 attempts the Rockets had in Game 1 was significantly less than the 40.3 attempts they averaged per game in the regular season, but if the Thunder continue to play big, the Rockets will get looks from beyond the arc.

"This has been something all year long for us", Donovan said. If you think they believe in defense, watch some Harden YouTube videos. "We've got to come back and be ready for the next one".

They say the playoffs are when the real season begins.

Fans came out early to the pre-game festivities to take it all in.

"The turning point was not an exact moment, but offensive rebounds and second-chance points was what really killed us", Thunder center Steven Adams said. It's like Anderson said: If you take away one aspect of the inside-out game from Houston, they'll hit you in the face with the other.