Preview 38 of 82: Thunder @ Trail Blazers
Time: 9:30 PM CST
TV: ESPN / FSOK
The Oklahoma City Thunder (24-13) are in Portland for a Northwest Division battle with Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers (22-16). The Thunder come in tied with Golden State for second in the Western Conference. The Blazers have won seven of their last 10 and are currently fifth in the West — trailing the Thunder by two and a half games.
Tip-off is at 9:30 PM CST and will be televised on ESPN and Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are one-point road underdogs according to Odds Shark.
- Alex Abrines: Out — Personal
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
Blazers: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jusuf Nurkic
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What to Watch For
Breaking the Curse. The Thunder have dropped six straight against the Trail Blazers and eight straight when playing in Portland. The last time OKC picked up a win at the Moda Center? February 11, 2014. Kevin Durant led the way with 36 points and 10 rebounds, Jeremy Lamb scored 19 off the bench, and because Russell Westbrook sat due to injury, Steven Adams is the only remaining player on the roster to have seen action in that game. It’s been a while.
Westbrook Bounce Back. Russ shot 3-of-20 in Wednesday night’s win in Los Angeles, dropping his 2018-19 field goal percentage to 41.6 percent. Over the last 10 games, Westbrook is shooting just 36.5 percent from the floor and 25.5 percent from long range — numbers that likely won’t lead to positive results against a Portland team that’s starting to click. Russ simply must be better on the offensive end.
Dame Time. Lillard enters tonight’s contest averaging 26.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists — shooting 39.4 percent from long range in the process. He’ll be a test for the Thunder defense, particularly for Westbrook in the match-up at point guard. He’s joined in the Blazer backcourt by C.J. McCollum, who’s scoring 21.1 PPG on a 32.9 percent clip from long distance.
MVPG. Paul George averaged 30.8 PPG in December, then carried his hot streak into the new year by blasting the Lakers for 37 points on Wednesday night. If the Thunder are going to pick up a win in Portland for the first time since 2014, it will likely require a lethal amount of PG13’s handy work. We’ve reached the point where the Thunder can’t win without him shouldering the load on both ends of the floor.
Ferg/Nader/Abrines. Terrance Ferguson is cleared for action after nearly falling to his death, then getting knocked out of the game by a Tyson Chandler haymaker on Wednesday against the Lakers. Abdel Nader (10.25 PPG over last four games) is in line for extended run yet again, as Alex Abrines is still away from the team due to personal reasons. (Should we be worried about Alex? I’m sort of worried about Alex.)
The Bigs. The Steven Adams/Jusuf Nurkic match-up at center should be fun. Adams is off to a career season, averaging 15.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Nurkic is posting 14.7 points and 10.5 rebounds for the Blazers.