Ok. City Thunder (49-31, 23-17 road) at Portland Trail Blazers (49-31, 25-14 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.2 (13th), Blazers – 110.7 (8th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.4 (8th), Blazers – 106.9 (14th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.1 (12th), Blazers – 87.6 (30th)
View from the enemy: Portland Roundball Society
If I were to use a word to describe the size of this game it would be large. Or massive. Or really, quite big. Whoever wins holds the tiebreaker over the other and effectively hands the loser the eight-seed and a date with the Lakers. In terms of regular season NBA basketball, it’s about as important as you can get.
Brandon Roy is out so that surely helps the Thunder cause tonight. But even still, without Roy for most of the game against Los Angeles, Portland still managed a win on the road against the Lakers. So while it helps, it’s doesn’t mean automatic victory. These games with Portland are always defensive struggles, with a few key possessions in the fourth typically deciding it. Tonight probably won’t be much different.
Portland coming in: The Blazers played yesterday in LA against the Lakers. At home, they are 25-14 and are 7-3 in their last 10.
With Brandon Roy out, the focus will shift to Andre Miller and LaMarcus Aldridge to carry the load offensively for Portland. As pointed out in the comments earlier, Roy being out allows Thabo to guard Miller. And that’s huge because for whatever reason, Miller has played very well against Russell Westbrook.
Nicolas Batum is a potential Durant Stopper with his length and athleticism. But last time in Portland after Batum guarding KD well for three quarters, Durant flipped a switch and torched Batum. So while Batum is an excellent defender, Durant can still get his points against him.
Inside, Portland has an edge with Marcus Camby on the offensive glass. He’s a rebounding machine and he affects everything in the paint. Again, there’s no Nenad Krstic tonight, so OKC’s big men will have to step up to try and match Camby somewhat.
Big game. That’s all that needs to be said. You want to win this one, lock up No. 50 and come home hopefully for a small victory lap before the playoffs.
Tip at 9:00 CDT. Go 50 (take two).