Trail Blazers vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer
Portland Trail Blazers (1-2, 0-1 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-0, 1-0 home)
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, Tulsa Cox 27, HD 722; DirectTV 679, AT&T U-Verse 753)
WWLS The Sports Animal
(98.1 FM, 640 AM, 97.1 FM Tulsa)
Time: 6:00 CST
View from the enemy:Beyond Bowie
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.9 (15th), Portland – 109.9 (11th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 95.2 (3rd), Portland – 109.1 (19th)
Pace: Thunder – 90.3 (23rd), Portland – 90.1 (25th)
This game suddenly feels big for some reason. Not because it’s going to decide the Northwest or make a big difference in terms of the playoffs or anything. I mean, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. But it feels big in the sense that there is potential to be 3-0 and this team was 3-29 on New Year’s Eve. Think about that for a second. Just stop. And think.
Not only could it knock win No. 3 out very early on but it could make the Thunder 3-0 with a win over a marquee opponent with the world champion Lakers coming to town Tuesday. These are the types of games we dreamed about all summer. And now it’s kind of sort of happening. It’s all just so exciting. The Blazers come in off a game last night in Houston in which Brandon Roy dropped 42 in a 111-107 loss to the scrappy Rockets. Roy played 41 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge played 40. Other than that nobody logged extreme time in the game. But with Portland starting 1-2 with high hopes for the year, I’m sure they’re expected to right the ship a bit in Oklahoma City tonight.THE MATCHUPS
There is one key match in this game: Brandon Roy versus Thabo Sefolosha. These are the types of game where Thabo can earn that big paycheck he got last week. Portland has one primary option and that’s Roy. Take that away and the Blazers may have trouble scoring. Travis Outlaw is an excellent instant-offense type player off the bench, but he’s inconsistent. Roy is constant. I’m curious how much time James Harden sees tonight. Does Scott Brooks trust him enough to guard Roy? I guess we’ll find out.
Aldridge lining up with Jeff Green is another key head-to-head. Aldridge seemed to torch Green last year, though Aldridge’s highest point total against OKC last season was 18. But Uncle Jeff has been solid defensively against Jason Thompson and Charlie Villanueva so hopefully he can press on and limit another quality scoring four.
Steve Blake hasn’t played exceptionally well thus far, but hey, that’s why they’ve got Andre Miller, right? I really like Russell Westbrook going against both these guys. I think that matchup favors OKC more than any other. Durant-stopper Nicolas Batum is still out with an injury so Martell Webster gets assignment. I feel like this is a good thing for the Thunder.
Forget Favre back in Lambeau, THIS is the game of the day. Oklahoma City can make a rather large statement with a win. After the excellent defensive performance and playmaking down the stretch against Detroit, I feel better about it than I ever thought. This team is different. It’s obvious. Heck, look – through two games they’re third in defensive efficiency. With that said, it’s still a young group and bad, off nights are going to happen. So I’m not predicting anything. I’m just saying I feel pretty good.
Tip at 6:00 CST. Go favorite team.