The Oklahoma City Thunder go up against their Northwest Division rival, the Portland Trail Blazers, Tuesday night at 7 p.m. cst, and Thunder Nation can count their blessings on two points. First, the game is at home, and second, the Blazers aren’t a lottery team.
Unfortunately, the remaining prospects for Tuesday’s game is a dog fall and the Blazers present a conundrum.
Andre Roberson is again doubtful and after running off a 6 game winning streak with a healthy Roberson, the Thunder have managed to win but 2 of their last 5 with an ailing or absentee Robes. Thirty-point opposition first quarters and early double-digit deficits have become the norm since the team’s best defender went down and a 14 loss to another bottom feeder Sunday night doesn’t leave much hope that trend is going to change anytime soon.
On the other hand, the Thunder have managed, even in the depths of their darkest hour, to pull out their best performances against the best teams in the league, thus the conundrum. The Blazers are neither at the top or the bottom. They are a solid team that will most likely make it to the playoffs and then, again most likely, falls in the first round to one of the Western Conference elites.
Rather than being like the volume knob on a car stereo, the Thunder are the On/Off switch with no middle settings in between. They are either the very impressive, near elite squad that topped the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors with discipline and poise, or the bumbling boobs that toss silly full court passes for early turnovers and miss almost half their free throws like Sunday night in a 114 to 100 embarrassment against the Phoenix Suns and seven other lottery bound teams earlier this season.
On any given game night, Thunder fans are either:
Rarely, if ever, have Thunder fans been able to just sit back afterward and say, “we played fine, but the shots didn’t fall” or “it was just one of those nights”.
On any given night the Thunder are either Delta Force or the Keystone Kops, the Fab-Five or Our Gang; never a middle ground. The truest words spoken by Thunder players thus far are these:
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have repeatedly echoed either those words or said that it wasn’t really a matter of the other team in pre-game interviews, that the Thunder just had to focus on what they needed to do. It’s time to listen to those words because they are the only practical explanation for the roller coaster ride this team has been on this season.
When focused, this Thunder team can beat the best, but when they are not, see Sunday night’s low-lights for the highlights of yet another lottery team’s season.
Damian Lilliard missed Sunday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs with a right calf strain and is listed as questionable against the Thunder. Lilliard and the Blazers, despite a big 4th quarter from the Thunder, won at the Moda Center (103 - 99) on November 5th. It would be nice to say that an improved Thunder team, with a plane ride and a back-to-back match-up with the Northwest Division-leading Minnesota Timberwolves looming, will be ultra-motivated by that loss and the need to put this one away early and rest the starters, but these are the 2017/2018 Thunder.
Against a middle of the pack Blazer team in the middle of the season, your best bet is - a coin flip.
How did your coin flip come out?
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