The Portland Trail Blazers suffered a tough loss the other night to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Matchup: Portland (33-45) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (58-21)
Venue: Rose Garden Arena
Time: 7:00 PM PT
Date: Friday, April 12, 2013
In a season in which the Blazers will not make the playoffs, you may think, “how is losing to the Lakers a tough loss when they’re still fighting for the last playoff spot and we’re not?” Well, the Blazers had a chance to play spoiler to the Lakers playoff chances and they played a great game. Unfortunately, they came up short.
The game against the Lakers was the most entertaining game I’ve seen the Blazers play during their current 9-game losing streak. Damian Lillard was outstanding as he scored a new career high 38 points. The Blazers got off to a quick start, shot the ball well, and really looked in control the whole game.
Then, Kobe Bryant happened. Kobe went on to score 47 points while playing all 48 minutes of the game. He was simply too much for the Blazers.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 11, 2013
Now, they get another chance to play spoiler. This time, it is against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They have the chance to beat the Thunder as the Thunder try to lock up the number 1 see in the West.
Game Notes/How They Match Up
With Portland mostly playing rookies and bench players as of late, they don’t match up well with the Thunder.
If the Blazers are forced to play without both Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews then they will have no one to guard, or attempt to guard, Kevin Durant. The guy in unstoppable no matter who you have on him, but they won’t even be able to slow him down.
If the Blazers have any chance in this game they will need a similar start to what they had Wednesday night against the Lakers – hot shooting and great play from star rookie Damian Lillard.
What to Watch: Portland
Getting off to a quick start will be key for Portland.
With the season on a down slide, a quick start could get the crown involved early on. A slow start will likely put the crowd in a coma for the rest of the game.
3-point shooting was a strong suit for Portland the other night. This is also something they will need to do again. With J.J. Hickson, Batum, and Matthews likely out Friday, 3-point shooting can open things up for LaMarcus Aldridge and Lillard.
What to Watch: Oklahoma City
The Thunder are still playing for the top seed in the west. They won’t let this one slip away without a fight.
This is arguably the toughest game left of the Thunder’s remaining three games. They will host the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks to end the season. The San Antonio Spurs, who the Thunder are currently fighting against for the top spot, has four games remaining: at home against the Kings, on the road against the Lakers and Golden State Warriors, and then they will end the season at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It should be clear sailing for the Thunder if they can win this one.
Lillard has been continuously tested this season as the NBA is filled with bright young talented guards. He has proven over and over again that he is up for the challenge. This game will be no different as he takes on Russell Westbrook for the fourth time this season.
Westbrook has averaged 23.7 points a game in the three previous match-ups. Lillard is averaging just 16.3 points a game against the Thunder. This is partially due to one of his few bad games this season, an 83-87 loss to the Thunder at home where Lillard scored just 9 points and shot 3-14 from the field. He averaged 20 points in their other two meetings.
I expect Lillard to show up big in this one.. maybe not as big as he was the other night, but he will have a good game.
Oklahoma City: DAY-TO-DAY – Kendrick Perkins
Containing Durant is one of the hardest things to do in the NBA. Portland won’t even come close to doing so in this one and Oklahoma City will roll on for the victory.