Russell Westbrook James Harden
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook drives to the basket against Houston Rockets guard James Harden during the fourth quarter in Game 4 of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on April 23, 2017. Reuters/Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

What was expected to be the most entertaining first-round series of the 2017 NBA Playoffs could come to an end in short order Tuesday night. The Houston Rockets host the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5, looking to punch their ticket to the conference semifinals.

Game 5 is set to start at 8 p.m. EDT at Toyota Center. TNT will have the TV coverage, and fans can watch a free live stream online with

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Houston has taken three of the series’ first four games. That’s exactly what they did in the regular season against Oklahoma City, winning two contests by double-digits and one in nail-biting fashion.

Russell Westbrook has lived up to expectations in the playoffs, averaging a triple-double after doing so in an MVP-caliber season. His 35 points per game are nearly three times that of anyone else on the team, and the Thunder have struggled mightily with him off the floor.

Westbrook didn’t appreciate it when a reporter asked Steven Adams why the Thunder play so poorly when the point guard is on the bench, and while the reason isn’t a mystery, it might prevent Oklahoma City from returning home for a Game 6. The Thunder outscored the Rockets by 14 points in the 39 minutes that Westbrook played in Sunday’s Game 4 loss, but they were a minus-18 in his nine minutes on the bench.

James Harden is likely to finish right behind Westbrook in MVP voting, but his supporting cast will lift him past Westbrook in the playoffs. Houston and Oklahoma City match one another as Harden was on the floor and scored just 16 points, but the Rockets’ bench was terrific. Nene led the team with 28 points off the bench, making all 12 of his field goal attempts.

That’s not to say Westbrook has been perfect this series. He didn’t play particularly well in Game 1—it was the only game in which he didn’t record a triple-double—and his fourth-quarter performance in Game 2 cost Oklahoma City. Westbrook scored 51 points in Game 2, but he missed 13 of his 17 shots in the final period, allowing Houston to mount a comeback and get the win.

Oklahoma City blew another fourth-quarter lead in Game 4. This time, the Rockets took the lead by sending Andre Roberson to the free throw line and taking advantage of his misses. The forward went just two-of-eight from the line in the fourth, allowing Houston to eventually take the lead for good.

Houston is simply the better team, and they should find a way to win at home. The latest betting odds at OddsShark have the Rockets favored by 7.5 points, and the over/under is 223.5.

Prediction: Houston over Oklahoma City, 120-110