After a rather uneventful round one of the Kevin Durant vs Greg Oden matchup, Oden responded with a fine game against the New York Knicks. Greg scored 17 points, pulled in 12 boards, and had 6 blocks in the Blazers 109-108 win over New York. That's the Greg Oden Blazers fans are hoping to see again tonight as the Thunder visit Portland for the first time this season. Portland fans and players will be out for revenge tonight after loosing to the Thunder on the road last Friday in a game that the Thunder lead wire-to-wire.
The fun thing to watch tonight is the supposed mass of Sonics fans making the trek down to Portland to root on the Blazers and Boo the Thunder. It'll be interesting to see just how many people show up wearing Sonics gear. In all honesty, I wouldn't expect it to be that many, but who knows. I mean seriously, as an avid Sonics fan for years, I had to sit here and watch fans not show up to Sonics games for years, so what makes people think they'll actually show up in mass now? Of course having your beloved team ripped out of your city is enough to make hardcore fans crazy with anger and willing to do anything to let everyone know about it. But how many hardcore Sonics fans are there really? It'll be fun to watch and find out tonight. I do hate it that the Sonics don't exist, and hope to see them again a few years down the road, so I'll give my condolances now to those who miss the team. At the same time, I'm not making any apologies for being happy about my favorite team moving to my home state.
As for the game, the Thunder should go into this with a lot of confidence knowing they just beat this team less than a week ago in the Ford Center, and while they'll be in a hostile environment, they will be used to the atmosphere. Of course they'll have to make the adjustment of being on the other end of the noise, but its not like their not used to playing in a fan crazy, super loud arena.
For the Blazers, Durant is priority number 1, 2, and 3. Over the last seven games, Durants stat line is 32.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, and 4.1 apg. As the season goes along he just keeps getting better and better. Every night he amazes, and every night he's playing better and better. He's really starting to settle into a nice groove. If the Blazers focus extra attention on Durant, the Thunder are going to have to look to other young guys like Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook to pick up the slack scoring.
Nick Collison will need to be physical inside with Greg Oden while he's in the game, and if Krstic happens to get out there on the big man, he'll be trying to drag him out of the lane with some long jumpshots. Of course, Oden is just a small piece of the Blazers offense, and as always Brandon Roy is the real threat. Westbrook and Weaver are going to be asked to carry the load guarding Roy, and the Thunders fate may very well rest in their ability to keep him under control.
Jeff Green's focus will of course be on Lemarcus Aldridge. He scored 18 points in their first game against the Thunder, and it'd be nice to see Green turn in a great defensive effort tonight and keep Aldridge in single digit scoring. Lemarcus was probably the Blazers best all around player on Friday bringing down 6 boards to go with 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 3 assists.
Off the bench, the Thunder need to be aware of Travis Outlaw after he torched Oklahoma City for 20 points on 8-13 shooting. When he enters the game, the Thunder need to pay attention and get a body on him because he can easily come in and before you know it score 25 points without you noticing he's been in the game all that much. I watched the whole game last week, and still don't remember him having a 20 point impact, but he did, so the Thunder need to pay attention.
Should be fun tonight, and the boys over at the Bedge love to invade other boards (in a good way), so this should be a pretty fun open thread tonight. Looking forward to another good game. Not sure if I'll make it all the way through or not though, these West Coast late start times are killing me!