Portland Trail Blazers 47-27, 16-20 road) vs. Thunder (21-53, 14-23 home)
TV: FS Oklahoma HD (Cox 37, HD 722)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
Time: 7:00 CST
Offensive Rating: Thunder: 103.2 (28th), Portland: 113.7 (1st)
Defensive Rating: Thunder: 109.3 (20th), Portland: 108.7 (18th)
Pace:Thunder: 93.5 (8th), Portland: 86.7 (30th)
Last time the Thunder beat the Spurs, they responded with a flat, uninspired performance against the Bulls. Do that again, and we may be taking a trip down P.J. Carlesimo lane with a home blowout loss. Hopefully, the team carries the momentum of beating one of the premier teams in the league at their place with them. One would assume OKC’s confidence would be sky high and they’d feel great going into this game. But I don’t think the Thunder plays that well when they think they’re “good.” They can’t take possessions for granted. They can’t just wait to turn it on like the Lakers or Celtics do. It’s got to be a full 48 minute grind.
I actually remember thinking during that Bulls game at some point in the first half (a half where OKC led the entire way), “Man, this team is playing with a little swagger. They look confident.” And of course the Bulls outscored OKC 51-40 in the second half, winning 103-96. Confidence is one of the most important things in sports. When you’re confident, you feel good about yourself and you play better. I firmly believe that. But when you’re not all that great and you’re a bit over-confident to the point where you think you can take possessions off or not work as hard on the glass, you’re going to get beat. So tonight, after an extremely impressive win over the Spurs, let’s hope nothing is taken for granted.
I love what the Blazers do and it’s a treat when they come to town. I’d give anything (and by anything I mean Earl Watson and a second round pick) to have Brandon Roy. I love his game and I love his leadership. But the Thunder matches up well against Portland. Kyle Weaver did decent work on Roy in the first two meetings, but now the Thunder features Thabo Sefolosha guarding the two. And a guy like Thabo could give Roy fits. He’s long enough to bother Roy’s jumper and quick enough to defend his dribble-drive. Nicolas Batum is their stopper and guarded Kevin Durant pretty well in OKC last time registering two blocks on KD, but still Durant put up 51 points in the two games against Portland. Travis Outlaw has been a pretty good Thunder killer off the bench for the Blazers, scoring 41 points in the two games.
Portland is the slowest team in the league, but yet has the highest offensive efficiency rating. They shoot an extremely high percentage from the field (eighth in league) and from three (seventh). They get quality possessions and good shots almost every time down the floor, which is not something the Thunder can say.
The Blazers come in having won three blowouts at home. If I were a playoff team and I were matched up with Portland and they had home court advantage, I think I’d save time and forfeit. They are that good at the Rose Garden. But for some reason, they don’t translate that awesomeness to the road where they’re 16-20 away from the Rose. A nice example would be the 102-93 win the Thunder had in OKC which turned into a 106-92 loss in Portland. The Thunder surely play better at home and seem to take advantage of these “great at home, stinky on the road” playoff teams.
One of only four remaining home games. How sad. But that means next year is almost here. And we all know what we’re counting on next year.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go home team.