Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: Oklahoma City Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), 99X 97.9 FM
Previous Meeting(s): Thunder 110, Trail Blazers 108
Tonight the battered but resilient Blazers come to town to take on the Thunder. When the two teams last met, the season was barely a month old and we were treated to an exceptionally competitive game for the month of November. Yes indeed, the Thunder and Blazers have not squared off for almost five months, and much has happened since then. It seems like a repetitive scenario, but once again the Blazers got off to the good start, then suffered through their annual reality check of injuries to Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, yet still continued to be competitive and are now rounding into what looks to be a very tough first round playoff match-up.
OKC and Portland had always been a historically good match-up based on conference and geography. Both teams had come oh so close to finding success in the playoffs but never to win it all, and they match up well for an entertaining game.
Do you remember what happened the last time they met this season?
On November 12:
- Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined to score 70 points.
- Durant led a charge that turned a five point deficit into a five point lead with under two minutes to play.
- Rudy Fernandez missed a game-winning 3-pointer with seconds remaining.
- Brandon Roy scored 24 in 35 minutes, back when he was able to log consistent heavy minutes.
The Blazers' resilience has been remarkable. They should have been written off for dead, just like the Jazz were and how it seems like the Hornets are now. And yet they have continued to fight through the injuries and completely re-invent themselves around the excellent play of LaMarcus Aldridge. Right now, Aldridge has to be in discussion with Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Al Jefferson as one of the best post-players in the league. Portland also gave itself a fighting chance this year with their trade for Gerald Wallace, who provides a nice secondary scoring option whenever Roy cannot give full effort. In the month of March alone, the Blazers have beaten the Magic, Heat, Mavericks, and lastly the Spurs.
I'm looking forward to a fast flowing game tonight that should have a playoff atmosphere to it. Some key match-ups:
- Kevin Durant vs Gerald Wallace
- Russell Westbrook vs Andre Miller
- Kendrick Perkins vs LaMarcus Aldridge
Of these three, I really think the game is going to come down to Westbrook vs Miller. Westbrook has played at a high level going against Miller and I think he knows he can exploit the match-up. I tihnk the game will turn in the end on whether Westbrook can play at an explosive yet disciplined level in order to break down the Blazers defense.
Tonight's game is not to be missed.
Prediction: Thunder 100, Trail Blazers 95