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Filed under: Northwest Division Preview

Ben Golliver and Chris Mannix speculate on a Blazers-Thunder duel for the division.

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Spo

Ben Golliver and Chris Mannix at Sports Illustrated team up to assess the NBA Northwest Division with their beginning of the year preview. With the Thunder's loss of Kevin Durant with a foot injury for 6 - 8 weeks Golliver believes the division looks to be up for grabs.

The Thunder are probably feeling a little cursed by the injury gods of late, what with Russell Westbrook undergoing three recent knee surgeries, Serge Ibaka missing key portions of the Western Conference finals and now Durant going down with his foot injury. There's no understating the importance of Durant to everything Oklahoma City does: the entire franchise revolves around his play and his personality, and there are no easy answers when it comes to compensating for his absence.

Mannix's thoughts of the Blazers in this video:

Their best case scenario for the Blazers:

Portland rekindles its magical formula from last season - impeccable health, a hot start, and an elite offense led by All-Star play from both LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard -- and staves off Oklahoma City to claim the division title.

Although these writers find positives for the other divisional teams the Blazers and Thunder have the best chance of dominance in the division.