Portland leads the series 3-1

Sunday, April 21 :: 8:30 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV Coverage: TNT (245 DirecTV, 31 Cox, 730 HD 108 AT&T U-Verse, 138 Dish)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 4-point favorites. The over/under is 221.
Online StreamTNT | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Blazers: here

SETTING THE SEASON

The Oklahoma City Thunder sit with their season on the edge. A loss tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Thunder are sent back to Oklahoma City with a very disappointing end to their season.

“This team has no quit in it,” Paul George said. “I definitely think we’re built for this.”

The Thunder fell in Game 4 to Portland 111-98 when Damian Lillard got hot and the Thunder never could recover. Portland went on a 37-14 run that spanned two quarters, including an 11-0 run to end the first half. The Thunder cannot afford to not make shots when Portland is heating up. They were able to respond in Game 3 when Portland did the same thing.

“We didn’t close the second quarter very well,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said.

The Thunder’s attitude at times will have to be checked. Portland, giving credit where it’s due, left the trash talking to the Thunder. It worked. Portland remained focused and the Thunder, trying to get in the Portland heads, seemed more focused on beating the players, than trying to win the game.

If the Thunder can find a way to play their game and disrupt what Portland wants to do, I know very cliche and generic, they’ll find a way to get the win and send this back to Oklahoma City.

“You play one game at a time,” George Said. “You leave everything in one game.”

In the post-KD Era, Westbrook is averaging 46.0 points on 43 percent shooting from the field and 36.9 percent from three-point range.

George’s elimination games are a bit more rough. He only scored five points on 2-of-16 and 0-of-6 from three in the Game 6 loss to Utah last season. He did score 34 points in the Game 5 win against Utah. So, there is hope.

The Thunder and Blazers are set to tip-off at 9:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Oklahoma and TNT.

If there’s a team that can be down 3-1 and come back from it,” George said. “I think we’re the team to do it.”

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Chris Fisher and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

SCOUTING THE ENEMY

  • The Portland Trail Blazers went 53-29 on the season, finishing third in the Western Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the Trail Blazers went 8-2.
  • In their last game, Portland overcame a 28-point deficit, beating the Sacramento Kings 136-131 on April 11.
  • Oklahoma City swept Portland in the regular season 4-0.
  • All-time the Thunder are 120-116 against the Blazers.
  • Since relocating to Oklahoma City, the Thunder are 22-22 against Portland.
  • The Thunder are 2-8 in their last 10 games at the Rose Garden.
  • Portland and the Thunder are tied 2-2 in playoff series wins. Haven’t met since 1991.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Jusuf Nurkic (leg) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Portland came on March 24, 2013, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 103-83 (20-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (35 points) vs. Portland occurred during a 107-72 loss on April 3, 2009.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out.
  • Hamidou Diallo (elbow) is out.

Keys to the Game

Be the better duo

Oklahoma City needs Westbrook and George to step up in this game — and for the rest of the series, if the Thunder are going to have a chance at winning this game and series. If the Thunder lose but the two have 60 points combined, then you tip your hat and respect Portland’s game. If not, you question a lot of things and rightfully so.

Attack Portland’s bigs.

The Thunder only scored 22 points in the paint. TWENTY-TWO. That’s the third lowest in franchise history. Oklahoma City has to do a better of getting shots up at the rim. They were abysmal in Game 4 and just stopped doing it. Westbrook is his best when he’s blowing by defenders and getting to the rim. He has to do this in Game 5. This includes going at Enes Kanter when he’s on the floor. Kanter is a plus-9.8 when he’s on the court in this series. Meyers Leonard is a SERIES HIGH plus-14.6. This has to be stopped in Game 5.

Do the little things

Portland is continuously beating the Thunder in the little things that make Oklahoma City tick. They’re beating in Oklahoma City in rebounds, assists, forcing turnovers and blocking out. Oklahoma City has to make these things into a bigger gap in Game 5. If Portland can break even in this part of the series, it’s over for the Thunder.

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Chuck Chaney

Founder & Editor-in-Chief.
Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.