Game 3 Preview: Thunder (0-2) vs. Blazers (2-0)
Time: 8:30 PM CST
TV: ESPN & FSOK
The Portland Trail Blazers took care of business on their home court in the first two games of the first round series, and now it’s time for the Oklahoma City Thunder to do the same. So far, the Thunder have struggled to shoot the ball — but have maintained a consistent defensive effort. In Paul George’s media availability on Thursday, he hinted that matchup adjustments may be incoming.
The Thunder need to win tonight’s game if they want a chance at winning the series, and with the ‘Peake rallying behind them – how could they lose? Even if some fans have given up (I see y’all in my Twitter mentions), Vegas and I still believe in OKC. The Thunder are 8-point home favorites according to Odds Shark.
Andre Roberson: Out – Knee
Hamidou Diallo: Out – Elbow
Jusuf Nurkic: Out – Leg
Regular Season Stats:
|Team||EFG||FTA%||TO%||OREB%||OP EFG||OP FTA||OP TO||OP OREB|
What to Watch For
PG’s Shoulder: Before Game 2, Paul George claimed his shoulder was “pain-free,” but forgive me if I don’t believe him. In Game 2, George posted 27 points on 2-7 shooting from three and 11-20 from the field. While he looked better than he did in Game 1 (4-15 from three and 8-24 from the field), he was still far from the pre-All Star break, MVP-caliber Paul George we know and love. Fortunately, he appears to be adjusting for his poor shooting from distance by finishing around the rim more. In addition to relying on inside shots, George should look to contribute to the game in other ways, namely on defense. He also racked up nine turnovers over the first two games. Not great, P.
When the 3 Goes In, the Thunder Win. The Thunder’s inability to shoot the ball even half-way decently from three has killed them in this series, so far. In Game 1, the Thunder hit a historically low 15.2% from three. I thought there was no way they would shoot that poorly in Game 2, but they basically did (17.9%). George’s arm may literally fall off if he attempts another, so it will be up to other players like Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson to pick up the slack tonight.
Russ vs. Dame: In the battle of two of the league’s leading point guards, Russ is getting crushed – for now. In the first two games combined, Damian Lillard, alone, has made nine threes while the entire Thunder roster has made 10. I’m not expecting Russ to out-shoot Dame from three, but what I do expect is for Russ to defend Lillard better than this. Offensively, Russ played great in Game 1 and it was because he looked to pass first and trusted his teammates. That is the Russell Westbrook the Thunder need tonight.
Feed Steve. With Blazers’ center Jusuf Nurkic injured, the Thunder were supposed to feast on Nurkic’s inferior replacements, Enes Kanter and Zach Collins. This hasn’t exactly been the case. The Thunder have looked best offensively when they’re feeding Adams under the basket and profiting endlessly off the Westbrook-Adams pick and roll. Adams has been the Thunder’s most consistent player over the first two games. Tonight, OKC will need him to attack Kanter and capitalize on his strength and size advantage to turn Kanter into a defensive liability.