NBA playoff schedule 2013, Thunder vs. Rockets: James Harden's homecoming

USA TODAY Sports

An overtime loss to the Lakers in the final game of the season pushed the Rockets down to the No. 8 seed for a matchup against the Thunder. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are together in the playoffs again, but things are much different this time around.

Kevin Durant and the No. 1 seed Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22) had to wait until the final night of the regular season to lock in a first-round opponent for the 2013 NBA Playoffs, but it was worth the suspense. The Houston Rockets (45-37) are headed to OKC for Game 1 on Sunday, April 21 (9:30 p.m. ET), which means James Harden will take center stage in an awkward reunion for the two teams.

Harden spent his first three seasons with the Thunder before being traded to the Rockets on Oct. 27 in a package for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, two future first-round draft picks and a future second-round draft pick. Harden played well next to Durant and Russell Westbrook during his time in Oklahoma City, but he has blossomed as the lead scorer for the Rockets. The former No. 3 overall pick is fifth in the NBA in scoring at 25.9 points per game, and he is the undisputed leader of the league's most explosive offense.

The Thunder won the head-to-head season series 2-1, and Harden struggled to make his mark in the first two contests as he shot a combined 9-33 from the field. However, he hit his stride in the third match-up on Feb. 20 and scored 46 points on 14-19 shooting as Houston pulled out a 122-119 win.

The Rockets play at the fastest pace of any team in the NBA, and they like to spread the floor in high pick-and-roll sets to either penetrate to the paint or to shoot threes. Their 28.9 three-point attempts per game ties the Knicks for the top mark in the association, and thanks to excellent offensive efficiency from Harden (60.0 percent TS) they rank in the top-five in team True Shooting percentage (56.4) and sixth in offensive efficiency (106.7 pts / 100 poss). Chandler Parsons has been an X-factor for the team all year, and when he shoots well from the perimeter the team can be very dangerous.

For everything the Rockets do well, the Thunder do those things even better. Durant, Westbook and Kevin Martin have blended together very well, and the team owns the No. 2 offense (110.2 pts / 100 poss) and the No. 4 defense (99.2 pts / 100 poss), per NBA.com. They have everything you look for in a serious NBA contender, and with Durant playing better than ever they no doubt expect to move past the Rockets relatively quickly. A 34-7 record at home during the regular season should give OKC a big edge in the first two games of the series, as Houston was just 16-25 on the road this year.

Here's a look at the schedule for the series:

Game 1

Sunday, April 21

Time: 9:30 p.m. ET

TV, streaming info: TNT

Game 2

Wednesday, April 24

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV, streaming info: TNT

Game 3

Saturday, April 27

Time: 9:30 p.m. ET

TV, streaming info: ESPN

Game 4

Saturday, April 29

Time: 9:30 p.m. ET

TV, streaming info: TNT

Game 5 (TBD)

Monday, April 29

Time: TBD

TV, streaming info: TBD

Game 6 (TBD)

Friday, May 3

Time: TBD

TV, streaming info: TBD

Game 7 (TBD)

Sunday, May 5

Time: TBD

TV, streaming info: TBD

More from SB Nation:

And the NBA award winners are ...

Watch Tony Allen sing karaoke

Tjarks: What Marcus Smart's decision means

Paul Flannery: A letter from Boston

2013 NBA mock draft: An overly exuberant scout's take

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.