Trail Blazers vs Warriors Wednesday, 04/17/13 AT 07:00PM

Trail Blazers Look For 10th Straight Home Win Against OKC

01/12/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    The gauntlet for the young Trail Blazers (20-16) continues on Sunday when they welcome the team who shares the best record in the NBA in the Oklahoma City Thunder (28-8). The Trail Blazers will look to extend their home winning streak to 10 games at 6PM on Sunday. That game will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

        •    Do you love length? Do you love athleticism? Do you love skill? If that's the case then look no further than tomorrow's match-up between Nicolas Batum and Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. Durant is putting together an MVP-type season but Batum has made a strong case that behind Durant, he takes the number two spot in the Western Conference small forward hierarchy. Batum's 28 point, seven rebound, five assist performance helped his cause in helping people recognize just how good he is. Durant has been putting up those lines on a nightly basis as he is averaging 28 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Durant has been forced to expand his game and create more for others after the trade of James Harden and he has delivered. Batum has almost always drawn the assignment against Durant and it will certainly be a fun one to watch. Ronnie Price said that "Nic is trying to prove that he is an elite player," and that the Trail Blazers support him. "We know what he can do and it's just up to everybody in the NBA to find out," Price added. Batum has faced and guarded Durant multiple times before but never before was Batum the entrenched starter and player that he is this season. In seasons past, it would be a one-way match-up as Batum had a different offensive roll. However, with a more open offense and a bigger, more-involved roll in the offense, Batum can take it to Durant more on the other end. Both play the game with a beautiful fluidity and if anything, it will certainly be nice on the eyes.
        
    •    It's difficult to clean anything from the Trail Blazers side of things from the previous match-up between these two teams. Portland was without back-up point guard Ronnie Price and the confidence in this team was very different than it was than compared to now. Batum went 1-11 and was a non-factor in all aspects of the game, something that hasn't happened since. Batum has expanded his game, mixing facilitating and scoring when the Trail Blazers need it, something that wasn't there in early November. Portland has to be weary of Oklahoma City's ability to run. They are an offensive juggernaut, ranking 1st in the NBA in efficiency on that end. They've been good on defense, too, ranking 7th. Durant had 23 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists while Russell Westbrook dropped 32 points and Kevin Martin scored 19 off the bench. The Trail Blazers saw defensive speed unlike anything they've seen before against Miami but the offensive speed for Oklahoma City will be just as jolting. Portland will need to try to disrupt Oklahoma City's offense on the defensive end but equally as important will be keeping pace on the other end.
        
    •    How about an encore? Damian Lillard graced us all with a show against Golden State, dropping a career-high 37 points in the loss. Lillard has another great match-up against Russell Westbrook. In the last match-up Lillard still had not quite gotten his defensive bearings, as it was only his second game as a pro. He's continued to work to get better on that end. Westbrook is still one of the most explosive players in the league and the match-up will be tough. Lillard scored 21 points and had seven assists in the previous match-up against Oklahoma City.

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