Tip-Off: 9:30 PM CST
Location: Moda Center (Portland, Oregon)
Television: FSOK, ESPN
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
SG CJ McCollum is the second-leading scorer for Portland with 22.7 points per game, and he could be in for a big night against Oklahoma City. Victor Oladipo’s is out tonight with a sprained right wrist so the defensive rotation for the Thunder will be heavily affected. McCollum is shooting a lights out 47.4% from beyond the arc and 91% from the free throw line. Not only is he a capable scorer, McCollum also averages 3.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1 steal per game.
Keys to the Game
- Blanket Trail Blazer Backcourt: Portland’s guard duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are one of the most dynamic starting backcourts in the NBA. As a team, the Trail Blazers are one of the league’s top 3-point shooting teams, and Lillard and McCollum are a big reason why. Portland shoots 37% from behind the arc, and nearly half of the team’s three-point shot attempts come from Lillard, who shoots 36.8% from three, and McCollum, who shoots 47.4% from three. Oklahoma City needs to lockdown Portland’s guards and force them to look down low where they are not very proficient.
- Pour on the Points: While Portland has one of the league’s top offenses, the Trail Blazers have one of the worst defenses in the entire NBA. Portland allows 112.1 points per game, and they allow opponents to shoot 45.8% from the field and 37.4% from three. The Trail Blazers also only force 12.9 turnovers a game, an area where the Thunder has struggled all season. If Oklahoma City can take care of the ball and control the tempo of the game, the Thunder could put up some big numbers on offense.
- Pound the Paint: Portland has one of the weakest post presences in the league. The Trail Blazers only score 41.6 points in the paint (21st in the NBA), and they allow 45.3 points in the paint (26th in the NBA). Meanwhile, Oklahoma City leads the league in inside scoring with 50.9 points in the paint per game. The Thunder needs to look for guys like Steven Adams and Enes Kanter to have potentially big games.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.