The NBA has its second night of playoff action on Sunday. The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers will play their game 1 on Sunday afternoon. These two teams played fiercely in the regular season and I expect them to play a tight playoff series. This game is set to start at around 3:30 PM Eastern time.
Oklahoma City put up a record of 49-33 through the regular season to this point of the season. The Thunder finished in sixth place of the Western Conference. Oklahoma City finished out the regular season with a five-game winning streak. The Thunder will look to ride that momentum to a Game 1 victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Trail Blazers finished out the regular season in the third seed in the Western Conference, with a record of 53-29. Portland is entering the playoffs on a three-game winning streak and they have won fourteen of their last seventeen games. The Trail Blazers will look to keep that going with a win at home against Oklahoma City.
The Thunder and the Trail Blazers have met four times throughout the regular season. Now, these teams will look to jump out to a 1-0 series lead. Portland will look to ride their home crowd to a victory, while Oklahoma City will look to pull off another road win against the Trail Blazers. I expect a good game on Sunday afternoon.
Regular Season Matchups
The Trail Blazers hosted the first game of the season series on January 4. Portland was led by Damian Lillard, had 23 points and 8 assists. Jusuf Nurkic dropped 22 points, while Al-Farouq Aminu put up 16 points and 15 rebounds. Paul George dropped 37 points and 8 rebounds. Russell Westbrook put up 31 points and 9 rebounds. The Thunder were able to put up a 111-109 win.
Oklahoma City hosted the second game of the season series on January 22. Damian Lillard had a 34 point night, while C.J. McCollum added another 31 points. Jusuf Nurkic added 22 points and 15 rebounds, but it was not enough. Paul George put up 36 points, while Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists. Oklahoma City’s starting lineup combined for 104 points to earn a 123-114 win.
The third game of the season series stayed in Oklahoma City on February 11. Damian Lillard had another strong night, scoring 31 points. Jake Layman put up 17 points off the bench to help the Trail Blazers. Paul George had a monster night, scoring 47 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Russell Westbrook added 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists. The Thunder were able to finish with a 120-111 win at home.
The fourth and final game of the season series shifted back to Portland on March 7. Damian Lillard went off for 51 points and 9 assists, while C.J. McCollum added 25 points. The rest of the Trail Blazers did not provide much support though. Russell Westbrook put up 37 points, while Paul George dropped 32 points and 14 rebounds. Oklahoma City finished with a 129-121 victory.
The Thunder dominated the season series, taking all four games this season. Oklahoma City will look to use that to their advantage as they try and go 5-0 against Portland on Sunday afternoon. I believe that the Trail Blazers will look to bounce back with a big victory on Sunday.
Steals and Turnovers
Oklahoma City has been doing really well at forcing turnovers and getting steals this season. The Thunder have averaged 9.3 steals per game, which is most in the NBA this season. Oklahoma City has forced their opponents to turn the ball over an average of 16.7 turnovers per game. The Thunder have averaged 14 turnovers per game.
The Trail Blazers have not been doing great this season at forcing turnovers and steals. Portland has averaged around 6.7 steals per game, while forcing their opponents to turn the ball over an average of 12.4 times per game. Portland is averaging around 13.8 turnovers per game themselves.
The Thunder have been doing really well at playing tight defense on their opponents this season and it can be shown on their steal and turnover average. Oklahoma City will look for their defense to step up in the playoffs. The Trail Blazers have not been doing quite as well at defending their opponents and forcing turnovers this season.
Paul George has averaged around 28 points and 8 rebounds per game this season. Russell Westbrook is averaging around 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game. Dennis Schroder has averaged 15.5 points per game off the bench. Steven Adams is averaging 14 points and 9.5 rebounds from the Center spot. Jerami Grant is averaging 13.5 points per game this season.
Damian Lillard has been averaging 26 points and 7 assists per game. C.J. McCollum has dropped an average of 21 points per game throughout the season. Enes Kanter is averaging 13 points and 8.5 rebounds per game since joining the Trail Blazers. Rodney Hood and Al-Farouq Aminu are both averaging 9.5 points per game.
The Trail Blazers are without Jusuf Nurkic, but Portland has still been able to put up strong performances to end the season. Westbrook and Lillard have been playing well this season and should match up well with each other. Lillard went off in their previous matchups this season. George will likely go up against McCollum throughout this series, which should also be a good matchup.
Oklahoma City dominated the regular season series, but with a clean slate, the Trail Blazers will look to take what they learned this season and pull off the victory in Game 1. Portland has been doing well down the stretch entering the playoffs, they will need to get past the Thunders defense though. If the guard duo for the Trail Blazers can go off, I believe it will lead to a big win.
BetOnline has Portland listed as a -3 against the spread. The Trail Blazers have done a good job and I believe that they will pull off the win at home in Game 1. Portland got swept in the season series, but I believe they will bounce back with a win at home. I am taking the Trail Blazers against the spread.