A pair of teams with similar records so far this season will meet up on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City. The Portland Trail Blazers face the Thunder in a Western Conference battle that could have a bearing on seeding as we near playoff time.
The Thunder enter the game with a pedestrian 22-18 record which is good for the 5th position in the West. Portland is sitting at 21-18, just one-half game behind and tied for the 6th position with the Denver Nuggets. Both teams have yet to really hit their stride and reel off a good winning streak although the Thunder have won 7 of their last 10 games.
Oklahoma City is still trying to figure out how the pieces fit together now that Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have joined up with Russell Westbrook in OKC. George seems a bit more comfortable since he brings more than just scoring to the table while Anthony has seen reduced shots which seem to vary from night to night.
The Trail Blazers have been getting by recently with limited impact from star guard Damian Lillard. He’s been dealing with various leg and muscle injuries and has been in and out of the lineup. Lillard has already been ruled out of tonight’s game against the Thunder which is most likely reflected in the line. However, his running mate, C.J. McCollum, has filled in nicely and backup point guard Shabazz Napier as well. And with big center Jusuf Nurkic rounding into form, the Blazers are still a lot to handle.
The Thunder return home for this game after a three-game Western trip in which they won two of three. But it’s back on the road for two more after this game with visits to Minnesota and Charlotte. Portland has wins in their last two, both homes games, with their most recent win a good one over the San Antonio Spurs by a single point.
Oddsmakers have the Thunder listed as a somewhat surprising 8 point favorite with the point totals sitting at 206.5. This could be a bit of a trap game for OKC since it’s sandwiched between five road games. But that could be even more reason for Westbrook and company to make sure they get this one.
Prediction: Thunder will take the game although I’m not sure they cover that spread. Point totals seem about right so take your pick.