Portland Trail Blazers (27-47) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (21-53)
The Portland Trail Blazers can see the finish line if they squint at this point. Just eight games remain in the season, with only three more at home. Winners of just two out of the last 15 games, it’s been a long slog for some time. Fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder probably feel the same way. The good news is though that it’s Blazer’s Edge Night! Let’s hope the teams put on a show.
The Thunder have been in rebuild mode for a while, and their efforts are starting to show some promise. That promise is generally not evident on the scoreboard, but at the moment that’s okay. Boasting the youngest average age in the NBA, Oklahoma City have some genuine stars in the making and three first round draft picks this year. This is a team to keep an eye on for the future.
Monday, March 28- 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Nassir Little (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Eric Bledsoe (out), Didi Louzada (out), Joe Ingles (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Justise Winslow (out), Josh Hart (out), Trendon Watford (out), Greg Brown III (questionable)
Thunder injuries: Luguentz Dort (out), Ty Jerome (out), Mike Muscala (out), Josh Giddey (out), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (out), Kenrich Williams (out), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (out), Derrick Favors (out), Darius Bazley (doubtful)
SBN Affiliate: Welcome to Loud City
Odds: POR +2, U/O 222
What To Watch For
- Tre Mann. He is just getting better and better. Three out of his last five games have been better than 20 point performances, including a 35 point outburst against the Boston Celtics. He was drafted to be a scorer, but he’s impressing in other ways as well. He’s pulling down 2 more rebounds per game in March than February in nearly the same number of minutes, and his passing and all-around play is starting to really pass the eye test. Keep tabs on this guy.
- Injuries. This season has been one for the books in terms of the injury report, but twenty guys between the two teams is... a lot. With so many players unavailable it makes predicting the outcome quite difficult. Don’t get me wrong, it will be pretty bad. That’s one thing we can count on. Beyond that? Your guess is as good as mine. Will Vit Krejci hit double digits? Will Olivier Sarr pull down five or more rebounds? That, ladies and gentlemen, is why they play the game.
- Let them shoot from deep. The Thunder take the seventh most shots from beyond the three point arc in the NBA. Over the last ten games they rank third in that category. The problem? They shoot for the lowest percentage in the NBA at 31.9%. Now I’m not saying don’t put a hand in their face, but otherwise encourage them to bomb away. What could go wrong?
What Others Are Saying
Head coach Mark Daigneault isn’t about the tank according to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Creider.
Even if tanking would be the best option in the Thunder’s long-term plans – it’s no surprise that both he and the roster have not entertained the idea. Oklahoma City is permeating with rising talent. With the youngest roster in the league, coupled with 10 players age 23 or younger, the entire rotation is looking to make a statement. Tanking does not align with such values. Mix this in with the fact Oklahoma City has three first-round picks this upcoming draft – a good cut of the rotation is looking to prove their worth headed into the offseason.
Fans have been positively giddy over Giddey, but Nick Crain of Forbes writes that Tre Mann may have been an absolute steal in that draft.
With a variety of injuries on the Thunder roster, the explosive rookie was recently promoted to a starting role with a larger opportunity to showcase his talent. Since the beginning of February, Mann has been one of the top rookies in the entire league.
Clemente Almanza of Thunderwire writes that the Oklahoma City will have three first round picks.
The Phoenix Suns have clinched the best regular-season record in the NBA, which means that its 2022 first-round pick will fall 30th overall, which means that the Oklahoma City Thunder will gain another first-round pick for this upcoming class.