A hot second half from Kyrie Irving helped down the Oklahoma City Thunder as they were defeated 101-94. Paul George did all he could, putting up 25 points and 10 rebounds while Westbrook contributed with a double-double himself, 19 points and 11 assists, though he did shoot 7/20 from the field.
The Thunder allowed the Celtics to shoot 46.1% from the perimeter and they also shot ten less shots from the charity stripe. A lot of the other major statistical categories were quite close outside of the two mentioned above.
The Trail Blazers beat the Lakers in one of the early contenders for game of the season thanks to a dagger three-point shot from Damian Lillard. He was outstanding in the match posting 32 points, five assists and six rebounds, as was his front court teammate, Jusuf Nurkic who put up 28 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in his best performance of the season to date.
Despite being outshot from the field (54.4% to 46.5%), Portland dominated from the perimeter, almost doubling the Lakers percentage, 40.9% to 22.2%.
Three keys to the game
Blocks and steals – The Thunder are one of the top teams in the NBA for blocks (6.5) and steals (nine) per game. It shows how active they are on the defensive end and that their team isn’t all just offense.
The Trail Blazers are also an elite team in terms of blocking (6.2 per game). Look for both teams to take care of the ball and take the right shots to prevent their opponent from getting an ascendency in both areas.
Fast break points – OKC use their activity on the defensive end to turn it into transition, fast-break points. They average 16 per game and are only behind the Warriors in that category. Again, if Portland can minimize their turnovers, they can stop the Thunder from getting those easy baskets.
Defending the perimeter – Portland is top three in three-point shooting percentage so far this year with 39.7%. Their backcourt has a lot to do with that and they’ll need to fire from there yet again to have any chance of toppling the Thunder. If the Thunder can force them into contested shots from the perimeter it’ll go a long way to helping them get the win.
Matchup to watch
Russell Westbrook vs Damian Lillard – Both of these point guards are two of the best at their craft. Lillard is one of the best perimeter shooting guards in the league and his clutch ability is evidenced in the Lakers’ wins as second to none.
Westbrook is a one-man wrecking machine; there’s no player in the league who matches him for energy on a nightly basis. Expect these guys to leave it all out on the floor as both of their performances will go a long way to deciding the result of this match.
Oklahoma City Thunder projected starting lineup
PG – Russell Westbrook | SG – Andre Roberson | SF – Paul George | PF – Carmelo Anthony | C – Steven Adams
Portland Trail Blazers projected lineup
PG – Damian Lillard | SG – C. J. McCollum | SF – Maurice Harkless | PF – Noah Vonleh | C – Jusuf Nurkic
Russell Westbrook is due another triple-double any time soon and he’ll be coming up against a direct opponent who isn’t known for his defense. He’s almost averaging a triple-double for the season anyway with 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 11.8 assists. Even if he doesn’t put up a triple-double those numbers are pretty staggering alone.
His opposing guard, Damian Lillard has started the season playing at an All-Star level He leads the team in points (26.1), assists (5.9) and steals (1.3). Lillard loves these big games, so look for him to step up and post yet another big box score.
The Thunder are three-point favorites in this affair. That number is just too close to call, but expect the Thunder to bounce back with a win, by somewhere around the four to eight point range.
The total score consensus is at 206.5 and with the amount of offensive talent on the floor in this match expect that to be covered with relative ease.
The Thunder will bounce back after a disappointing performance against the Celtics with a nice win over a playoff contender in Portland. There’ll be plenty of highlights throughout but ultimately OKC take it out 108-102.
Catch this one on league pass, Fox Sports Oklahoma and NBC Sports Northwest. Tip off is at 9pm ET at Moda Center.
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