Trail Blazers vs. Thunder Preview: Game 81
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 04/12/2010 12:39 PM

    Without their leader and superstar, Brandon Roy and coming off an emotional victory in Los Angeles, the Trail Blazers (49-31) take on the Thunder (49-31) in a game that decides who avoids the Lakers in round 1 of the playoffs. While the Trail Blazers are soaring high after knocking off the Lakers in Staples Center, the Thunder are feeling the polar opposite after blowing not only a 42 point first quarter but a 20 point lead in the Bay Area against the Warriors last night. Portland leads the season series to date, 2-1, with each team winning on the others home floor, including the most recent matchup on March 28th, a 92-87 Blazers win. Coincidentally enough, the only game Oklahoma City won occurred during Roy's rehabilitation of his hamstring, causing him to be miss the game and yet again tonight they are going to be the beneficiaries of another lucky break.

    In their earlier loss to the Thunder on February 9th, 89-77, Portland actually held a two point lead head going into the final period, but with no Brandon Roy to turn to, the cold shooting Blazers only were able to muster up 16 4th quarter points. Defensively, Portland has their number, holding the Thunder to under 90 points during every game this year, compared to their 101.1 points per game average. Its doubtful the Blazers will be able to score over the century mark, but if they can find a way to score around 95 points tonight, it could be enough to hold off OKC. Luckily for Portland, Webster, Bayless, and Rudy appear to be in much more of a groove, looking to pick up the scoring slack from an absent Roy and anything they provide tonight has to be better than their combined 3-17 shooting last go-round, right?

    One night it's Kobe Bryant, the next day it's scoring leader Kevin Durant. Being Portland's best perimeter defender doesn't allow for nights off and just one day after holding Bryant in check to the tune of 8-23 shooting, Nicolas Batum has to refocus and prepare for another scoring assassin. KD has got right near his scoring average, netting 31 a night in two head to head matchups with Batum, but not without challenge as he was contained to 19-43 shooting (44.2%). Like all elite scorers, Durant does his business at the foul line and does it often, getting to the line a league-leading 10.3 times a night, making 9.3 of those attempts. Both Marty and Batum kept Kobe quiet by forcing into a large quantity of contested jump shots combined with suffocating ball denial defense and doing so without fouling, as Kobe attempted only 3 free throws the entire night. A success for our wing defenders tonight would be to make Durant shoot under 45% from the floor and limit him to 8 or less free throw attempts.

    One player who gets swept underneath the rug when it comes to the Thunder is jack-of-all-trades forward, Jeff Green. Reminiscent of Antwan Jamison is his ability to not only score inside but drift his game out as far as the three-point line, Green is their quintessential "glue-guy". Durant is bound and determined to get 30, no matter how many shots it takes, but if the Trail Blazers can score more than they did against Dallas when they let Dirk loose but held everyone else in check, they can win the game the same way. Green has been very consistent this year against Portland, keeping extremely close to his season averages in all three games, averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.0 assists., so don't expect Green to not produce. To keep him from exploding for 25+, Aldridge must make sure most of his [Green's] energy is spent trying to keep him [Aldridge] off the blocks. A fiery Aldridge is something the Thunder are not equipped to handle, especially if Nenad Kristic isn't able to go after a bruised knee kept him out of last night's game against the Warriors.

    Injuries have forced both squads to thin out their bench and put quality reserves into the starting lineup. It will be a test to see which 2nd units want it more. Although Portland won the last meeting, it wasn't in any part due to their bench, getting outscored 23-12 and losing the rebounding edge 14-2. One player Portland must keep an eye on at all times is young forward Serge Ibaka, who during the month of April is putting up season-highs in points, 9.5, rebounds, 7.3, and minutes, 20.3. One player who the Trail Blazers should call upon is rookie Dante Cunningham to ignite the offense and scrap for loose rebounds. In the last game against OKC in the Rose City, Cunningham was the only Blazer who was locked in from the field, shooting 7-12 for 14 points and grabbing 6 off the glass. Even though the reserves have only played well for the last two games, I see the trend continuing tonight. Marty's confidence has to be through the roof after his huge 4th quarter, Bayless, at one point, scored 7 straight for Portland yesterday in the 2nd half, Old Man River seemingly is there whenever we need a foul line jumper, and Dante always seems ready for the challenge. The Blazers bench outplays their counterparts, Durant gets his but others are negated, and the Aldridge/Camby front-line are just too much inside for the Thunder to handle.

    Game 81 Prediction: Trail Blazers 94 Thunder 90
    Game 81 Preview
    I am a fan of
  1. ClydeFrog
    Posts: 975

    Posted 04/12/2010 2:44 PM

    Without Brandon, we need to just lay it out all on the line..dive for every loose ball..frustrate the living hell out of OKC. You know, their going to want this game a lot too..don't think they want to play the Lakers in the playoffs, which is what'll happen if they lose and the Spurs win tonight.

    Also, for everyone saying tank this one in hopes of Dallas beating the Spurs on Wednesday..I don't buy it. You play to win and take whatever matchup heads our way. There is no guarantee Dallas beats SA anyways the way it has gone this year out West.

    Play tough, get bench production, and dominate the paint will be keys to victory tonight.
    I am a fan of Watching Elliot Williams Take Flight!
  1. Tobyus Sanchezo
    Tobyus Sanchezo
    Posts: 1669

    Posted 04/12/2010 3:20 PM

    They should rename them to the OKC Crude Oil.

    Hey I'm just sayin', it'd make more sense. That's a dirty job, kinda like stealing a team from another city.
    I am a fan of multiple All-Stars on the Blazers roster this season!
  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 04/12/2010 3:30 PM

    Posted By Tobyus Sanchezo on 04/12/2010 3:20 PM
    They should rename them to the OKC Crude Oil.

    Hey I'm just sayin', it'd make more sense. That's a dirty job, kinda like stealing a team from another city.

    Haha, too true
    Although I don't dislike many of their players, actually they are quite a likable team, I simply refuse to root for them because of how their franchise came about. I'm not even a Sonics fan, but I won't purchase Starbucks (Howard Shultz is the CEO) because he was idiotic and sold the team to someone he knew would move them and I won't support someone like Clay Bennett.
    I hope we devastate them tonight!
    I am a fan of
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