- Rockets guard James Harden was ill during shootaround this morning but is feeling better and will play tonight. Center Omer Asik has been sore with an ailing back, but he will also go tonight. “He felt really bad the other night and he had what, 17 points and 14 rebounds? I hope he feels just as bad tonight,” joked Rockets head coach Kevin McHale in the back hallway. McHale said guard Jeremy Lin is feeling better as he recovers from a bruised chest but wasn’t sure if he’d be able to play. If so, McHale said it would be only a few minutes off the bench.
- An intense atmosphere expected both inside and outside Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight. Thunder fans are expected to greet Rockets guard Patrick Beverley with enthusiastic boos when he’s introuduced in the starting lineup and every time he touches the ball. Beverley crashed into Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook during a timeout call in Game Two that led to Westbrook’s season ending knee injury. Beverley, who has spent time playing in Europe where verbal abuse of opposing players is common, seems ready for whatever Thunder fans might say, “it’s going to be fun, I’m looking forward to all the boos,” he said before the game. “I know every time I catch the ball I’m going to hear boos.” Oklahoma City police officers rode the team bus and will be stationed around the Houston bench tonight.
- About a block down the street from the arena, pickets from the radical Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas are protesting Jason Collins’ revelation that he is gay. Church supporters have sent threatening messages to Collins and to Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who expressed his support for Collins. Extra security is in place outside the arena.
- During the regular season, OKC was one of the best teams in the NBA in scoring off the fast break but Westbrook’s absence has clearly affected that. In the first two games of the series, when Westbrook was on the floor, the Thunder scored 45 fast-break points. In the last two games, with Westbrook sidelined, OKC has managed just 15 points in transition. “Russ is a one man fast break sometimes so not having him is gonna put a dip in some of our stats but I think we’re still scoring the ball at a good rate,” Durant said before the game.
- Thunder head coach Scott Brooks would like to see his team get into the offense a bit quicker and avoid scramble plays at the end of the shot clock, “we wanna get into it quicker, not neccessarily take a quick shot but get into the offense quicker so we’ll have an extra four or five seconds on the back end of the clock to make some extra passes.”
- In 44 regular-season games over the last two seasons OKC’s Derek Fisher shot 34 percent overall and 34 percent on 3-pointers. In his 24 postseason games with the Thunder, Fisher is shooting 43 percent overall and 43 percent on 3-pointers. In this series against the Rockets Fisher is 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) overall and 8-for-13 (61.5 percent) on 3-pointers.
- Harden is just 4-for-25 (16 percent) on 3-pointers in the series.
– Randy Renner