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Thunder vs Trail Blazers preview: OKC looks to bounce back against Portland

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OKC looks to rebound tonight, but must contend with Portland’s high-scoring back court.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder (4-4) are heading to Portland to face the Portland TrailBlazers (5-4).

You don’t know what you are going to get from the Thunder tonight. As at some points, OKC looks to be one of the stronger teams in the NBA, but as last game showed, the Thunder is still a team whose work is in progress. After having one of the best first 24 minutes this season (18 point halftime lead), the Boston Celtics outscored the Thunder 64-39 in the second half to win the ballgame. Head coach Billy Donovan had some good and bad takeaways from the last game loss.

Per Yahoo Sports:

“Who we can we be was out in front of us the first 24 minutes,” Thunder coach Donovan told Yahoo Sports. “And what we can be on the other end of it’s the second 24 minutes.”

If the Thunder have the same second half against the Trail Blazers as they had against the Celtics, then this game will get out of reach quickly.

Portland has one of the league's best backcourts starring Damian Lillard, who hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left to win the game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Lillard is averaging 26.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists this year. At shooting guard, CJ McCollum is shooting the ball lights out this year; he’s averaging 52.3 percent from the three off of 5.5 attempting per game.

Andre Robertson and Russell Westbrook will have to play aggressive and smart defense to take away the three point shot and easy shots, something that they have struggled to do in tandem this year.

But even if OKC has success against the perimeter, Steven Adams has to deal with Jusuf Nurkic, who can score in the double-digit range night in and night out. Nurkic struggled in the beginning of the season, but his last two games, he averaged 23.5 points and 8 rebounds.

This game is another true test for the Thunder big three. Carmelo Anthony and Paul George are still trying to get a good feel playing alongside Russell Westbrook. On some nights all three players look fantastic playing with each other, but others are disjointed Donovan needs to do a better job on maximizing those two players’ strengths on the floor.

But even with Carmelo and George playing opposite, the Blazers coach still knows who runs the team.

“When I look at the Thunder, I still see Russell Westbrook,” Terry Stotts told Yahoo Sports.

What to Watch:

You would want to watch not one person, but the entire Thunder team. Usually, great teams bounce back from ugly wins and bring out energy and focus the next game. Let’s see if the Thunder can put two good halves together and get one game ahead .500.

The Thunder are a team in works, but if they can come out with a victory on the road after such a meltdown against the Celtics, they will grow through the experience. Patience on offense, especially from Westbrook and Carmelo, will help spell victory.

Fast Stat

Poll

Who do you think will win tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    Thunder
    (72 votes)
  • 51%
    Trail Blazers
    (76 votes)
148 votes total Vote Now