Portland Trail Blazers (42-30, 16-20 road) vs. OKC Thunder (47-24, 26-10 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.9 (6th), Blazers– 108.5 (11th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 107.1 (15th), Blazers – 106.5 (13th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.7 (12th), Blazers – 88.3 (30th)
View from the enemy: Portland Roundball Society
The Thunder’s 2-0 against the Blazers this season. But by a total of three points. Of course those two wins came without Kendrick Perkins (and Nazr Mohammed) so here’s a good stick to measure by. By all appearances, OKC doesn’t love the matchup against the Blazers, but despite being smaller inside with Jeff Green at the 4, the Thunder was able to win twice. Common sense says OKC improved and should do better now. I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out.
Portland coming in: The Blazers have won five of six including their last game Friday, a dramatic buzzer-beater over the Spurs.
A good number of matchups across the board to watch. First, Andre Miller and Russell Westbrook. Obviously Westbrook is faster and more athletic, but Miller is one of the smartest and craftiest veteran point men in the league. He’s great at getting into the paint, posting and scoring when you don’t expect it.
Wesley Matthews starts at shooting guard but he shares time there with Brandon Roy. Thabo Sefolosha will need to bring a strong defensive game checking those two, but this could be a good night for James Harden to see a good amount of time. You want Matthews and Roy guarding on the other end and Harden will press them.
Nicolas Batum is a good defender and has some length to check Kevin Durant. In the past Batum has done a fair job on KD. But Batum is no longer a one way player. He’s not just a good outside shooter, but he can get to the rim and score as well.
And of course inside is where the focus will be. Kendrick Perkins on LaMarcus Aldridge and Serge Ibaka on Gerald Wallace. Perk will play Aldridge very physical while Aldridge will likely try and pull Perk away from the basket. Wallace is quicker than Ibaka so he’ll try and take him off the dribble. Marcus Camby played a little against San Antonio but wasn’t terribly effective. He’ll likely see time tonight too, so the overall inside game and battle on the glass will probably be what decides the game.
A big game in a lot of ways tonight. The Blazers have fallen back a bit in the chase for the Northwest Division, but the Nuggets are still tailing OKC and the Blazers aren’t far behind. At this point in the season, taking care of business on your home floor is important, especially when you can’t afford to drop games. And plus, a good look at where OKC’s at against a good interior team.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Thundermania.