The Blazers just played the Thunder 10 days ago. The loss we pinned on them started a streak of losing 5 of 6 for them. They bring a 22-58 record into this game, including a 7-32 mark on the road.
Other than the extra losses, their team hasn't changed much since our last preview, which should clue you in just in case you're seeing Oklahoma City for the first time tonight.
However what would usually be a mundane matchup at home is magnfied into hyper-critical status by the Blazers' situation. Portland is locked in a three-way tie for seeding rights with Houston and San Antonio and lies a single game behind division-rival Denver. The words are tossed around too frequently. Here's hoping they haven't been robbed of their impact entirely. This is a must-win game for Portland. As long as the Blazers win they continue to hold their destiny in their own hands as far as homecourt advantage in the first round. One loss makes the path exponentially steeper.
The keys to the game were set out pretty well in the prior preview:
- Dominate the interior.
- Throw different defenders and defensive looks at Durant.
- Run them.
- Deny the drive, not worrying about their deep shooting until they prove they can beat you with it.
- Overwhelm them with bench scoring.
To these five points I'd add a sixth: Don't given them even a moment's chance to remember that before this year they were the Seattle Supersonics and a fierce division rival. If these guys were wearing green and gold tonight I'd be legitimately concerned about their potential for playing spoiler. I don't even want to see a shred of a hint of a ghost of those uniforms tonight. These are the Thunder. Just keep repeating that.
See what the Thunder have to say at WelcometoLoudCity.