Time: 7:00 PM CST
TV: NBA TV & FSOK
The Oklahoma City Thunder (28-18) return to action tonight at Chesapeake Energy Arena, facing the Portland Trail Blazers (29-19) in a Northwest Division showdown. The Thunder enter as the third-ranked team in the Western Conference, with Portland trailing closely in fourth. OKC won the first match-up of the season on January 4, taking a 111-109 victory on the road.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma and NBA TV. The Thunder are 5-point home favorites according to Odds Shark.
- Alex Abrines: Active — Won’t Play
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
Blazers: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Amimu, Jusuf Nurkic
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What to Watch For
Standings. With a win, the Thunder would move to 2-0 against Portland this season and solidify their third-place standing in the West. Should the Blazers come away with the victory, they’d take over third place, send OKC to fourth, and even the season series at 1-1. The results of tonight’s game could have some far-reaching implications down the line in a crowded Western Conference.
Last Time. The Thunder took a 111-109 victory on January 4 in Portland, using 37 points from Paul George and 31 more from Russell Westbrook to come away with the narrow victory. The Blazers led by 11 in the first half, then OKC held a 10-point advantage late in the fourth before a furious Portland comeback fell short. I’d expect another close one tonight.
B2Bs. Both teams are on the second night of a back-to-back. OKC won 127-109 yesterday in New York City, with Portland topping Utah 109-104 in Salt Lake City. Though neither team is well rested, the Thunder made easy work of the Knicks — allowing Westbrook and George to sit out the fourth quarter. Anything helps.
On the Glass. Both teams are exceptional on the boards, as OKC is second in the league with 48.1 per contest and Portland rings in third at 48.0. The team that can control the glass tonight will give itself a considerable boost. There was a 57-57 tie on the boards in the first match-up between the teams this season.
Slowing the Portland Attack. The Blazers are led by their star backcourt of Damian Lillard (26.1 PPG, 6.2 APG) and CJ McCollum (20.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG). Jusuf Nurkic (15 PPG, 10.4 RPG) figures to also be featured prominently, as he always seems to play well against Steven Adams.
In terms of what they do well, Portland shoots 35.9 percent from long range, which is good for 8th-best in the NBA. Given OKC’s struggles defending the three-point line over the past couple weeks, George and Terrance Ferguson will presumably be very busy on the perimeter tonight. The OKC defense held Lillard and McCollum to a combined 33 points on 11-of-34 (32.3 percent) shooting on January 4. It’ll be tough to replicate such a performance, but they’ll need to do everything they can to keep Portland from getting hot.