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2012-2013 Game 79 Preview: Thunder See Blazers in Final Road Game

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With the Thunder mired in a tough battle for the first seed in the West, it appears they've finally happened upon a game that's a total gimme.

Heck, at least they didn't try to ford the river.
Heck, at least they didn't try to ford the river.
William Bennett Berry
2012-2013 NBA Season
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The Oklahoma City Thunder (58-21)
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The Portland Trail Blazers (33-45)
April 12th, 2013
The Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon
9:00 PM Central Daylight Time
Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Comcast Sports Network Northwest
WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), KEX 102.3 FM
Enemy Blogs: Blazer's Edge, The Portland Roundball Society, Rip City Project
Previous Meetings: Nov 3rd, Jan 13th, Mar 24th (Thunder Lead Season Series 3-0)
Injury Report: JJ Hickson (Questionable), Nicolas Batum (Doubtful), Wesley Matthews (Out), Elliot Williams (Out)
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Damian Lillard
Thabo Sefolosha SG Will Barton
Kevin Durant SF Victor Claver
Serge Ibaka PF LaMarcus Aldridge
Kendrick Perkins C Meyers Leonard (J.J. Hickson?)

With the Thunder mired in a tough battle for the first seed in the West, it appears they've finally happened upon a game that's a total gimme. The Portland Trail Blazers have basically packed it up for the season, losing 9 straight games and enduring injuries to three of their starters. Normally I'd say that the bench still has a chance, but if you seriously believe that, then you truly haven't seen the Blazers' bench. It's an NBA atrocity.

Yeah, they did do a good job of keeping it competitive with the Lakers last night, but I just don't see the Blazers having the firepower to win this game, even on the second half of a back to back. Yes, LaMarcus Aldridge is an excellent shooter and will probably get a few open jumpers. And Damian Lillard, the rookie, usually has a performance that mirrors Russell Westbrook's. But, when the Thunder know who to pressure, the results can be fantastic.

H8ers are going to come into this column and say, "Man, you don't know anything about Portland's bench." Well, let me tell you. Will Barton is a quick guard who loves to stop and pop and drive the lane. Luke Babbitt pretty much tees up from anywhere. Victor Claver is like Luke Babbitt, except with worse shooting and better dribbling. Sasha Pavlovic probably should have left the NBA years ago, but supposedly he's still a good scorer. I could write about the rest of them, but Portland loves to keep a short bench when at all possible.

Basically, if J.J. Hickson doesn't play, the Trail Blazers are going to go small most of the time and try to run the Thunder off the floor by working for shots with good ball movement and control. The strategy could be effective, but judging as to how the Thunder are one of the best open floor teams in the league and how the Blazers were missing tons of wide open shots last night, I just don't see them pulling this one off. Even with Hickson.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 105, Portland Trail Blazers 92.

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