OKC at POR Game Preview – 48 Minutes of Intensity against Division Foe
PORTLAND – In the Western Conference, particularly on the road, every game is a full on battle.
Tonight as the Thunder takes on the Portland Trail Blazers on the second night of a back-to-back, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club looks to continue growing as a unit on both ends of the floor as it tries to extend its NBA-best eight-game winning streak.
So far this year, the Thunder is 10-3 against Western Conference foes, racking up the most wins in the conference out of any team despite playing the fewest games thus far in the early schedule. Only two teams in the conference have fewer than nine wins or more than 10 losses, with every team in the league having played at least 16 games to this point. Despite its success, the Thunder knows that it has a challenge on its hands tonight in Portland as the Blazers boast a 15-3 mark. The Thunder played a solid defensive game in a 97-95 win on Tuesday night over the Sacramento Kings, but knows it must be on point tonight.
“Every game is tough,” Durant said. “It’s just another opportunity for us to get better. It’s a tough place to play but it should be fun.”
“We have to be better (tonight),” Brooks said. “We’re playing the hottest team in the game right now. They have a great home crowd and they have a great atmosphere. Our guys have always been up to challenges and definitely (tonight) will be a tough challenge for us.”
As divisional foes, the Thunder and Blazers know one another quite well, and despite a 4-0 sweep by the Thunder last season, every game was contested. This season, the Blazers have gotten highly productive play on the offensive end up and down the lineup, starting at the top with LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, who each average over 20 points per game.
Along the wings, Wesley Matthews is shooting 51 percent from three and Nicolas Batum is shooting 40 percent from behind the arc. Every aspect of the Thunder’s defense will be tested tonight, meaning Brooks’ club will have to be vigilant for 48 minutes.
“Lillard is having a great year in his second year,” Brooks said. “They have a good core. They picked up and extra big. I think they’re a terrific team.”
“In the West, there are no nights off,” Brooks continued. “There are so many good teams and tough places to play. We’re in it and we have to get better as the season goes along.”
In the Notes:
- The Thunder went 4-0 against the Blazers last season, and overall is 12-8 against Portland.
- The Thunder is 3-0 when five-or-more of its players score in double figures in the same contest.
- The Thunder is 10-2 in games after a win thus far this season.
9:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network