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Can Harden fire Rockets to NBA glory?

They have been called one of the greatest NBA teams in history and the Golden State Warriors are deservedly the front-runners in the betting for this year's title.

Winners in 2015 and 2017 and runners-up in between, Steve Kerr's men have redefined the way basketball is played in America, with their three-point shooting and an ability for players to swap positions with great fluidity making them difficult to lay a glove on.

As such, they are 4/7 favourites to make it a title repeat but, nearly a quarter of the way through the season, what do we know about them; are they all that?

Yes, is largely the answer, given they average a league-high 117.8 points per game and have Steph Curry producing the shooting form that earned him back-to-back MVP titles.

However, the good news for punters is that they have already been tagged in two big games this season and there are reasons to believe money can be made elsewhere in the market.

The Houston Rockets are the best place to start. They lead the Western Conference at the moment and, though they trail the Warriors by an average of four points per game, their defence is better. They have teamed MVP candidate James Harden (ave 31.1 ppg) up with assist machine Chris Paul and, under respected coach Mike D'Antoni, have a real chance.

Early-season form would suggest they are the Warriors' biggest rival in the west and, as a result, are strong favourites to topple whoever comes out of the Eastern Conference.

But what of the Oklahoma City Thunder?

They may have lost disappointingly to Detroit on Friday but they showed their true colours on Wednesday as they ruined Golden State's Thanksgiving with a 108-91 drubbing in a game packed with drama.

In reigning MVP Russell Westbrook they have a man fired up on defending his crown and also winning the NBA, allied to his feud with former team-mate and current Warrior Kevin Durant.

The two-time MVP's decision to break up his partnership with close friend Westbrook and head to Golden State last season created some bad blood which was still evident on Wednesday as Westbrook produced a typically ferocious performance to see off Durant and his all-star cast.

However, he has a stellar squad of his own. OKC have added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to Westbrook's pack and they make a 16/1 price look very tempting. Current inconsistent results may not suggest it, but the Thunder have a real chance.

In the east, Cleveland's seven-game winning streak has got them back on track after a mixed start amid injury and inconsistency, but their 11/2 does not tempt enough just yet, nor does Boston's 10/1, even after a 16-game winning streak. The Celtics have the meanest defence in the league so far (95.7ppg) but an attack producing (103.4) may struggle against the West's big-hitters.

Houston Rockets to win the NBA at 17/2

Check out the latest BetStars Basketball odds

Stuart Walker
@BetStars in Basketball