The Oklahoma City Thunder look to pick up the pieces and put themselves back together against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night. It was an ugly performance in the desert last night. The Thunder got off to a 43-13 hole after playing a quarter of basketball. They looked better in the second quarter, but were completely outclassed for the majority of that game. The Suns could have named the score in that contest and settled on a 140-103 final score. I thought it’d be a little more competitive than that, but given the state of the Thunder right now, it’s no surprise they were blown out.
They’re dealing with multiple injuries, including to their most dangerous player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. I was most impressed by the guard play of Theo Maledon for the Thunder. Their depth at guard is in tatters right now, and Maledon was able to do a fine job filling in. He scored 33 points in the losing effort, but at least Maledon stood out for the Thunder. However, the same can’t be said for the rest of the Thunder. When trades and injuries take away a lot of the talent that was here before, they’re certainly not as good as their record of 20-28 indicates.
Then there’s the case of Al Horford who has benched for the remainder of the season. This is a guy who is one of the top scorers on the Thunder’s roster. They hope to keep him fresh and execute a trade in the offseason. Do you think the Thunder are tanking or what? The Thunder are a team with their eyes completely on the future. They have a bevy of draft picks thanks to the Paul George trade, and have a young upcoming player in Gilgeous-Alexander.
He’s only a 22-year-old and the Thunder are going to add a lot more young talent in the coming years. The future might look better for the Thunder, but the present is looking ugly with an injured Gilgeous-Alexander. He is expected to be evaluated in mid-April, so at least two or three more weeks without him on the floor. If the Thunder are going for a tank job, there is no reason to rush him back to the court.
With the loss last night, the Thunder are losers in four of their last five outings. They take on a Trail Blazers squad on a back-to-back as well. The Blazers took it on the chin in a 127-109 loss. That snapped a four-game winning streak for the Blazers, and a wake up call that they must be better to compete with elite teams in the NBA. Portland enters tonight with a record of 29-19. Head below for our free Thunder vs. Trail Blazers pick on April 3, 2021.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Portland Trail Blazers NBA Betting Odds:
Thunder vs. Trail Blazers Prediction:
The Thunder must be tenfold better than they were last night. It’s going to be another guaranteed loss if that’s the effort they bring with them to Portland. If you’re the Thunder, you probably wanted to see the Blazers win last night. This could have been a really good letdown spot for the Blazers against the Thunder. However, they were pushed around themselves in a 127-109 loss. Expect the Blazers to return with a better effort, so too bad for the Thunder, who are going to be down starters again tonight.
Along with Gilgeous-Alexander out, the Thunder are going to be without Darius Bazley and Luguentz Dort. Dort is dealing with a concussion with no timetable for a return. He needs to pass NBA concussion testing to receive the greenlight to return to the court. With the Thunder sitting Horford as well, depth is a major issue for OKC. Even before the injuries and personnel decisions, the Thunder ranked at the back of the NBA offensively.
The Thunder are 27th in the league with 106.2 points per game. They’re shooting just 44.7% from the field. Through their last five outings, the Thunder are shooting 43.5% with 104.6 points per game. The defense has been suffering as well. No Horford at center is allowing teams to hack and slash towards the rim with no resistance. Phoenix scored 140 points last night, and the Thunder conceded 119.4 points per game in their last five outings.
OKC has three wins in their last nine games, which were all against bottom teams. They beat the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Toronto Raptors. Against better competition, the Thunder have been unable to be a competitive team. The Blazers have one of the better offenses in the league, and now that they’re healthy, even more dangerous with Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic back in the starting lineup. They also added sharpshooter Norman Powell from the Raptors at the trade deadline.
The Blazers go into Saturday with 114.8 points recorded per game. They’ve been sharp in their last five tilts, with 118.4 points netted per game. The defense is beatable, but the Thunder don’t have the personnel to score at the moment. They are going to come back with a better effort tonight, though their effort likely won’t be enough against a Blazers team bringing a better effort to the table. The Thunder will keep this game closer. However, a 15 or 16-point win for the Blazers looks attainable.