Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

OKC Thunder (28-8) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (20-16) Preview

The Oklahoma City Thunder will travel to Portland tonight to take on a hot Trail Blazers team that is 13-4 at home this season.

The Blazers had won four games in a row before dropping their last game 103-97 on the road against the Golden State Warriors.

During that win streak, the Warriors most impressively beat the Miami Heat 92-90 on national television.

The Thunder and Blazers have played once already this season back on Nov. 2. The Thunder won that game 106-92 behind 23 points and 17 rebounds from Kevin Durant.

Portland’s leading scorer this season is still LaMarcus Aldridge who is averaging 20.2 points per game. The biggest addition to Portland this season is the leading candidate to win the Rookie of the Year Award this season, Damian Lillard.

Lillard is averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 assists per game this year. He’s coming off a career-high 37-point game in Portland’s last game against the Warriors.

Lillard will have a tough matchup today trying to keep up with Russell Westbrook who has also been playing well of late. Westbrook scored 32 points in the first meeting between these teams as well while Lillard had 21 points on 9-of-19 shooting.

Portland’s third wheel this season is Nicolas Batum who is having a career year. He’s averaging 16.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game this year. Batum really struggled against the Thunder earlier this season going 1-for-11 from the field.

This particular matchup isn’t a great one for Portland. They are having a solid season but they rank just 24th in the NBA in defensive efficiency this year. It takes elite level defense usually to beat the Thunder.

The best hope for Portland will be for Oklahoma City to simply have an off shooting night, which they have had more of recently especially on the road.

A big key for the Thunder tonight will be getting Serge Ibaka back on track. After scoring a career-high 26 points three games ago, he has scored just six points in each of the Thunder’s last two games. The Thunder offense is always better when Ibaka is getting open looks and knocking them down.

This will be OKC’s second straight road game and seven of their next eight games after tonight will be on the road. The Thunder are aware of this and don’t want to waste any opportunities to get road wins right now.

The game will tip-off at 9 p.m. EST tonight.

Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder Portland Trail Blazers

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