Thunder (41-12, 18-9 road) vs. Blazers (36-15, 19-5 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.2 (5th), Blazers – 112.4 (1st)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.3 (4th), Blazers – 107.8 (20th)
Pace: Thunder – 95.0 (12th), Blazers – 95.2 (9th)
The Thunder hold a four-game lead over the Blazers heading into tonight’s game, but a loss and that sort of becomes a two-game lead. Because not only would Portland pick up a game in the immediate future, that would also give them a 3-1 season series win, and a future tiebreaker if needed.
So it’s an important game for the Thunder in that regard. As well as the fact, this is really the only team that’s held OKC’s head under water at all this season. The Blazers’ starting five has given the Thunder fits with their ability to space and move, and while all three games have been painfully close, the Blazers have made a few more plays in two of the three games. The one Thunder win? It took a Slim Reaping from Durant in the fourth quarter to completely snatch one away from them.
It’s a decently big regular season game. The Thunder have played so well the last three weeks and while a loss in Portland isn’t catastrophic by any stretch, maintaining their momentum into the All-Star break sure would be nice.
Three Big Things
1. LMA. He’s torched the Thunder pretty good, except for the fourth quarter of the last game where Perk’s hard defensive work on him finally started paying off. Aldridge went 1-9 in the fourth quarter and couldn’t make anything of importance down the stretch with Perk on him. Aldridge still has roasted Perk and the Thunder pretty good this season outside of that fourth quarter, so he’s certainly the focus.
2. Bench. The Blazer bench is mostly bad. It’s not productive outside of Mo Williams, who is out tonight, and even with Reggie Jackson in the starting five, it’s a major advantage for the Thunder. Portland’s starting five is terrific. But the bench is weak and it’s an area OKC needs to expose.
3. KD. He’s going to have to hit some big fourth quarter shots and do some awesome stuff. Obviously that’s very possible, and maybe even likely, but if OKC’s going to win, KD needs to play well.
Tip at 9:00 CT. Go Even Up.