Thunder at Trail Blazers: Pre-game primer

okc-thunder3 vs. p-trail-blazers

Thunder (22-58, 7-32 road) at Portland Trail Blazers (52-28, 32-7 home)

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
Time: 9:00 CST

Offensive Rating: Thunder: 102.8 (29th), Portland: 113.8 (1st)
Defensive Rating: Thunder: 109.6 (21st), Portland: 108.3 (16th)
Pace:Thunder: 93.5 (8th), Portland: 86.5 (30th)

One thing I think we’re all going to have to accept is what’s happening. There’s two games left, the team is on the road, there’s nothing to play for but pride and I’m sure it’s tough to be motivated. I really don’t blame the team. I think it bothers me (and others) because we’ve come to expect so much more from this team in terms of effort, but right now, they’re just trying to get to the finish line and start thinking about next year.

I know Scott Brooks surely isn’t happy about it seeing as he’s still fighting to keep his job. And I’d absolutely much rather win than lose. Forget the ping-pong balls. If OKC is meant to get the No. 1 pick, it’ll get the No. 1 pick.

But the Thunder travels to Portland tonight for what most would expect another ugly affair. Remember last time? A 37-point margin and it wasn’t even that close. Let me warn you: That could very well happen again tonight. The last eight losses, OKC’s average losing margin is 19.4 points. That’s quite a jump from all those six point losses the Thunder had been piling up. Lately it’s been either win, or get whooped trying. And since I’m not really expecting a win, I’m thinking we may be flipping over to Letterman during the fourth quarter.

Last time LaMarcus Aldridge absolutely torched the Thunder for 35 points. OKC shot something like four percent from the field and never was in the game. Not even at tipoff. It was just a total ace-kicking. The Blazers are awesome at the Rose Garden (32-7) and don’t lose to teams they shouldn’t there. With them making not only a push to the playoffs, but giving fans illusions of possibly making some serious noise, it’s going to be a long shot for an uninspired Thunder team to hang tight.

So why should we watch? What can be gained from this game? Well, if I’m Scott Brooks I’m using the game to get a message across to my team for next year and also to tinker and play with lineups. You want to see some more development from Shaun Livingston and D.J. White. But you want to get it across to your team that you have to continue to compete. There’s no reason to cash it in (even though there’s lots of reasons to). Also, Kevin Durant is averaging just 19.5 ppg his last two and scored just 13 points last time against the Blazers. KD may not play all that much since there’s not a ton of reason to, but I’m kind of half expecting him to toss up a nice 30-point effort. Which is always fun to watch.

All you can hope for is for the team to compete and gives us reason to watch. This is still real game basketball and there’s no better place to improve than in-game. The Thunder has a ton of room for improvement and even though there’s just two games left and nothing to gain, the Thunder can still work to get better.

Tip at 9:00 CST. Go Thunder.

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