Portland Trail Blazers (3-1, 0-1 road) at OKC Thunder (5-1, 3-0 home)
Oklahoma City is coming off their first lost of the season. Last season OKC was 17-6 after a loss. This season, we’ll get to see how they respond. Daequan Cook missed the Dallas game with flu-like symptoms and Thabo Sefolosha left midway through the first quarter with a sore foot. James Harden gets the start tonight.
Portland is solid as usual. They return most of their roster. They added Jamal Crawford, who missed the game winner Sunday against the Clippers. The Blazers have six players averaging in double figures in scoring. Plus, they have four players averaging six or more rebounds per game. Portland plays solid defense just giving up 94.3 points per game. However, their shooting is lack luster. Only shooting 33% from three-point range.
This is the first meeting between the division opponents this season. Last season, OKC won 3 of the 4 match-ups, losing the final one in Portland. The final one in Portland was after the trade that sent Gerald Wallace to Portland from Charlotte. Portland went on to lose to Dallas in the first round of the Playoffs.
Keys to the Game
Limit three point opportunities
Portland averages 18 attempts a game. However, they have shooters who can hit them. Early in the season, they haven’t been able to make them, but don’t discount their ability to make them. They’re shooting 33% from three-point range.
You know when I just thought this was settled, OKC goes off and gives 56 points in the paint to Dallas. Portland will get in the lane. Must learn to limit or at least contest a lot of shots. So many shots were on put backs as well. You need to block out and grab a defensive rebound.
Oklahoma City had 12 assists last night. If you’re going to be a solid team like Portland, you need to pass the ball and score buckets. Too many players trying to create their own shots. They need to move the ball, to help them create the shots.
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