Trail Blazers/Thunder Pre-Game
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 02/09/2010 12:04 PM

    Tonight, Portland (30-23) plays their last home game before the All-Star break against rising Oklahoma City (29-21) in a game that game can keep the Blazers afloat in the West or send them into a free fall heading into All-Star weekend. Starting with the January 25th game against New Orleans and finishing tomorrow night at Phoenix, Portland embarked on the toughest 10-game stretch of the season. Currently, they haven't weathered the storm too well, going a sub-par 3-5, including a rare home loss to the Lakers on Saturday night and letting an eight point lead slip away with under four minutes to play against the Hornets.

    Let's be realistic, tonight's game is the best chance of Portland achieving a win before the break, because we do not match up well with the high octane Suns, nor have we won in the Valley of the Sun since spring of 2004. Throw in the fact the Thunder are above us in the standings by two games in the loss column and are a surprisingly good road team given their youth and inexperience (14-11), they don't seem like a candidate to falter down the stretch like the Grizzlies, which makes this match one of great importance in the grand scheme of playoff positioning. Also, Portland defeated OKC in Oklahoma, 83-74, giving them a leg up in the tie-breaker scenario.

    In that November win, Portland was able to dodge the Kevin Durant bullet. He shot a dismal 3-20 from the floor and was only able to score in double figures, 16, by getting to the line an amazing 14 times. Durant is #1 in the NBA in free throws made per game at 8.7 and 4th in the league in attempts at 9.9. The Blazers and their staff should definitely not bank on Durant shooting another 3-20 from the field, especially during his torrid pace of 24 consecutive games with scoring 25 or more points. On the plus side, Portland was without their best perimeter defender back on November 1st which makes it harder for Durant to prepare to be defend by Batum. I've been looking forward to this matchup since Nico returned. Just like any dangerous scorer, Batum must make sure to keep him in front of him, keeping him away from the paint, and taking away his free throws. If he's hot from the outside, there is absolutely nothing we can do about that, but at least make him work hard for his points.

    Although a prolific scorer, I would argue KD is not a play-maker just yet. Durant is 2nd in the league in turning the ball over, 3.8 times a night, which hopefully Batum can use his length to force a few TO's. A lot of people are talking a lot of noise, saying how we screwed up by missing out on Kevin Durant, but I think Nico is the perfect championship caliber small forward, a defensive minded play maker. The bottom line is Durant is already an NBA superstar, one of the best pure scorers in the game and he would have been an awesome addition to this team, but we went with the championship formula of size and defense and it just hasn't paid off yet.

    One player who always seems to give Portland fits is guard Russell Westbrook. In his short five-game career against the Blazers, Westbrook puts together an impressive stat line for such a young player, going for 15.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists a night. He was the lead scorer during the last meeting with 23 points and frustrated many Blazer fans with his ability to offensive rebound last season, but his Achilles has always been his ability to force the ball and create too many turnovers from the starting point guard position. He had nine the last go-round. His 159 turnovers this season are enough to put him 7th in the league. Batum looks like he will be a busy man tonight as it is being reported he will also start out the game on Westbrook, giving Webster the daunting task of defending Durantula. Westbrook's M.O. is to get to the goal, buy any means necessary. Batum needs to treat Westbrook like he is Rajon Rondo and force him to beat us with his 40.8% field goal percentage jump shot, before playing too tight on him.

    On Portland's end, I expect huge nights from both Aldridge and Bayless. With the 6'9" Jeff Green more than likely to draw the task of defending LMA, he will have a good three inch height advantage which he should use to his advantage by shooting the jump hook or turning into Green, instead of settling for his too-often used turn around fade away. Given his advantage in height, the large wingspan, and the position at which the ball is placed above his head while shooting, there should be no way in hell for Green to even come near blocking his shot. We need the aggressive L-Train who ran wild on the Thunder at the tail end of last year, going off for 35 points and 18 rebounds.

    The only bigs which play for the Thunder are Kristic and Collison, both not noted for their defense nor shot blocking, which plays perfectly into the hands of Bayless, who loves to get to the rim first and ask questions later. They may play off of him at first, much as Portland should do against Westbrook, but if he gets the ball off of a screen or in transition, there should be no hesitation to get to the goal constantly.

    Tonight likely will not define the Trail Blazers season, but it will be a test of their character. They played with a little self pity against the Lakers of all times last time out and it will be interesting to see if the fire from the 4th quarter of the San Antonio game is back or not. If the squad comes out revved up and ready to go, they will win. No statistical goals needed to win tonight. It all comes down to a want and will to succeed and I think the team will do so, knowing it is the last home game before the break and a feeling of embarrassment after the L.A. game.
    Game 54 Prediction: Trail Blazers 103 Thunder 97
    I am a fan of
  1. BR7_Fan
    Posts: 399

    Posted 02/09/2010 4:05 PM

    Agreed. A solid effort from our squad should net us a win. Come out agressive and attacking, good ball and player movement. Give the loudest NBA fans something to cheer about! Looking for the bench to rebound from the LA loss, Martell getting his head back on straight and playing tough D on Durant. LMA to play a lot better (you know that double is coming buddy so look for it and the open man!)  Even if we take a loss, i want to look at the game a say we fought, scrapped, and left it all on the floor.
    I am a fan of RIP CITY > LOB CITY
  1. Tobyus Sanchezo
    Tobyus Sanchezo
    Posts: 1669

    Posted 02/09/2010 4:17 PM


    I am a fan of multiple All-Stars on the Blazers roster this season!
  1. ClydeFrog
    Posts: 975

    Posted 02/09/2010 5:51 PM

    Just another reason to loathe OKC. They stole the Sonics away from Seattle, ruining one of the funnest rivalries in basketball. I hope Batum destroys Durant and we can put any of that Durant should have been picked talked to waste!
    I am a fan of Watching Elliot Williams Take Flight!
  1. Ben Dover
    Ben Dover
    Posts: 6

    Posted 02/10/2010 9:55 AM

    Durant has to love coming to Portland and making the Blazers look like the "Little Sisters of the Poor".  Anybody that can look back over the last few years and not admit that taking Oden was a serious mistake, is simply a fool.

    The new phrase is "That's how Oden's knees crumble".............not cookie.
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