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Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder Game Preview

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The Blazers and Thunder wrap their season series tonight in Oklahoma City with playoff positioning on the line.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (26-35) at Oklahoma City Thunder (35-28)

March 7, 2016, 5:00 PST
Watch: KGW NBATV; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Evan Turner (out), Ed Davis (out), Festus Ezeli (out)
Thunder injuries: Victor Oladipo (day-to-day), Alex Abrines (day-to-day)
SBN Affiliate: Welcome to Loud City

The Trail Blazers take on the Thunder tonight for the second time in the last five days. Last Thursday, Portland hosted Oklahoma City and treated the Moda Center faithful to a thrilling, 114-109 victory. Since, the Blazers have notched a victory against the Nets and the Thunder have dropped two subsequent games.

Russell Westbrook scored 45 points last week against the Blazers, but also needed 36 field goal tries to get there. Combine the shot attempts of the other four Thunder starters that night—plus those of Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson, who together played 70 minutes total off the bench—and you still come up with four fewer shots than Westbrook attempted by himself.

Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 33 points on 11-for-23 shooting in the win over OKC. Portland launched 79 shots all game, meaning Lillard was accountable for 29 percent of his team’s field goal tries. Consider the 41 percent of the Thunder’s attempts for which Westbrook was responsible last Thursday, and it’s fairly certain we’ll be treated to another showdown between star guards tonight.

Not only does Westbrook score—he leads the NBA in points per game with 31.7—he also brings down 10.6 rebounds (No. 12 in the NBA) and dishes out 10 assists (No. 3) a night. The 5.5 turnovers he averages are second-most in the league, but that’s to be expected from a guy whose NBA-leading usage rate of 41.2 percent is nearly five percentage points higher than that of the next player on the list, DeMarcus Cousins.

Portland leads the season series against Oklahoma City 2-1, and a win tonight would place them just two games behind the Nuggets in the win column for the No. 8 seed in the West. For OKC, a win would put them in a tie for No. 6 with the Grizzlies, and also match them against the Rockets instead of the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. With the Blazers scratching and clawing at a playoff berth and the Thunder fighting for playoff positioning, both teams will be fully motivated tonight in their last meeting of the season.

For a more detailed breakdown of this matchup, see Steve Dewald’s preview from last week.