The NBA is set for a busy Friday night of action with a total of ten games on the board. One of these games will be between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers. Both teams are right in the mix for the Western Conference playoff picture, which should lead to an exciting game. The game will be on at 10:30 PM Eastern time on ESPN.
Oklahoma City has gone 24-13 to open up the season. The Thunder are currently sitting in third place of the Western Conference. Oklahoma City is coming off a tough road win against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Thunder have won two games in a row and three of their last four. Oklahoma City will look to ride this recent winning streak to another tough road victory.
The Trail Blazers have started out the season with a record of 22-16, which has them in fifth place of the Western Conference. Portland had a nice come from behind victory against the Sacramento Kings in their last matchup. Like Oklahoma City, the Trail Blazers have won two games in a row and three of their last four. Portland will look to take care of business with a win at home on Friday night.
Friday night’s matchup between Oklahoma City and Portland will be the first of the season. The Thunder and the Trail Blazers will meet three more times on January 22, February 11 and March 7. These two teams are both really close to each other in the Western Conference standings, which should lead to an exciting season series.
Last Season’s Matchups
The Thunder and the Trail Blazers met up a total of four times last season. Portland hosted the first matchup of the season series. Paul George had 27 points, while Russell Westbrook dropped 25 points, but the two Thunder stars did not get a lot of help. Damian Lillard dropped 26 points and 13 assists on Oklahoma City. Jusuf Nurkic had 25 points and C.J. McCollum added another 22 points to help lead the Trail Blazers to a 103-99 win at home.
Oklahoma City hosted the second game of the season series. Russell Westbrook and Paul George both had another solid night as each scored 22 points. Carmelo Anthony put up another 19 points, but the Thunder could not slow down Portland. C.J. McCollum dropped 27 points, while Shabazz Napier scored 21 points. The Trail Blazers were able to pull off a dominant 117-106 win on the road.
The third game of the season series shifted back to Portland. Russell Westbrook and Paul George once again put up their best effort, but it still was not enough to take down the Trail Blazers. Westbrook had 30 points and 11 rebounds, while George dropped 21. C.J. McCollum had a 28 point night and Damian Lillard added another 20 points. Portland was able to pull away with a 108-100 win in front of their home fans.
Oklahoma City hosted the final game of the season series. Russell Westbrook had a solid night, scoring 23 points, 9 assists and pulling down 8 rebounds. Steven Adams had 18 points and 10 rebounds, but once again it was not enough to give the Thunder the win. C.J. McCollum had 34 points on Oklahoma City. Damian Lillard added another 24 points to give the Trail Blazers a 108-105 win to end the season series.
Portland finished out last season with a perfect 4-0 sweep against the Thunder. The Trail Blazers went on to secure the third seed in the Western Conference, while Oklahoma City finished with the fourth seed. Portland has won seven straight games against the Thunder and they will look to make it an even eight with a win at home on Friday night.
Russell Westbrook and Paul George have continued to lead the Thunder this season. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double again this season with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists per game. George has averaged 27 points and 8 rebounds per game. Dennis Schroder has been a huge player off the bench, averaging 16 points per game this season. Steven Adams has averaged 15.5 points and 10 rebounds per game from the Center spot this season.
The Trail Blazers have been led by the Guard duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum this season. Lillard is averaging 27 points and 6 assists per game this season. McCollum has averaged 21 points per game from the Shooting Guard spot. Jusuf Nurkic is averaging 15 points and 10.5 rebounds per game at the Center spot.
One of the top matchups to watch in this game will be between Westbrook and Lillard. Both Point Guards are having strong seasons offensively. I believe that George will guard McCollum throughout this game because of how successful McCollum was against Oklahoma City last season. There will be a good battle between Adams and Nurkic as both Centers have real similar stat lines this season.
The Thunder have had a lot of struggles going up against Portland recently, but I believe that they could use the momentum from their matchup against the Lakers to help give them the win on Friday night. Oklahoma City will need to shut down McCollum who was on fire every time he went up against the Thunder last season. Oklahoma City did not get a lot of production from Anthony last season, but with Schroder taking his place and coming off the bench, I believe he could help give them the edge needed to win.
BetOnline has this game set as a pick against the spread. This means that they have this game set so that either team could win. I believe that the Thunder have a good chance to end their losing streak against the Trail Blazers on Friday night. Both teams have been doing well recently, but I believe that the Thunder keep the winning streak alive with a win on the road.