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Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder Preview

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The Blazers will try to finish their road trip on a high note at Oklahoma City.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (2-2) at Oklahoma City Thunder (1-3)

October 30, 2019 - 5:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Pau Gasol (out)
Thunder injuries: Andre Roberson (day-to-day), Steven Adams (day-to-day)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Welcome to Loud City

The Portland Trail Blazers had back-to-back games go down to the wire, winning against the Dallas Mavericks, but most recently losing to the San Antonio Spurs 110-113 when Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beater three rimmed out. The Blazers can take solace in the fact that they came back against the Spurs when it looked like they were dead and buried, but they won’t be happy with the fact that a double-digit lead turned into a double-digit deficit before the comeback attempt materialized.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have only won once so far, but that was a 120-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors. They also played the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets close, so Oklahoma City won’t be a pushover. With a core of Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, they have enough talent to give good teams a fight on any given night.

What to watch for

  • Filling Collins’ shoes. With Pau Gasol unavailable, the Blazers find themselves short-handed when it comes to big men while Collins recovers from his shoulder injury. Giving Anthony Tolliver 28 minutes a night probably wasn’t what Coach Stotts had in mind before the season started, but that’s what happened against San Antonio. What’s worse, Tolliver has started out the season shooting 12.5% from the field. Tolliver will almost certainly shoot better and play better in the future, but in the meantime Skal Labissiere might be in line for more minutes.
  • More balanced scoring. Only Dame and CJ are averaging over 13 points per game so far, accounting for 48% of the Blazers’ scoring. Look for the Blazers to try to get more people involved in sharing the scoring load against the Thunder. Six players or more in double figures would be a good goal, while anything fewer than five is a disappointment.
  • Can the Blazers give a complete performance? The Blazers are most definitely a work in progress, and understandably so. With so many new faces it’s natural that it might take a little while to work out the kinks. Still, when it’s been bad, it’s been really bad. Cover your kids’ eyes bad. If Portland plays with consistent intensity and focus they really should take this game. If not, all bets are off.

What they’re saying

Tamberlyn Richardson of Thunderous Intentions thinks that the Thunder may have given up on Patrick Patterson too soon:

Is Patrick Patterson a cautionary tale of OKC Thunder head coach Billy Donovan giving up on a player too early? When Patterson arrived in Oklahoma City in the summer of 2017 he was under the impression the starting power forward position was his and he’d be sidling up to Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Paul George, and Steven Adams.

Want an overview on what they are thinking about the Thunder this year over at Welcome to Loud City? Have a look at their roundtable:

What are you expecting from the team this season?

Mystery Contributor: I don’t expect Oklahoma City to make the playoffs this year but if no moves are made and this current roster plays out the entire season it wouldn’t shock me if they were in the hunt for the eighth seed towards the end of the season.

Reid: I expect the high 30s in win totals, and a totally different style of play, borderline unrecognizable from the last decade of Thunder basketball. I don’t think we’ll make the playoffs, but we’ll all finish the year feeling pretty good.