Dec 4, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) battle for a rebound with Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) and point guard Reggie Jackson (15) during the fourth quarter of the game at the Moda Center. The Blazers won the game 111-104. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

OKC Thunder (25-5) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (24-7) Preview

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Oklahoma City Thunder
Offensive efficiency: 106.8 (4th)
Defensive efficiency: 97.4 (2nd)
True shooting percentage: 56.2 (3rd)
Offensive rebound rate: 26.4 (10th)
Turnover rate: 14.4 (19th)
Pace: 99.1 (5th)

Portland Trail Blazers
Offensive efficiency: 110.4 (1st)
Defensive efficiency: 105.0 (23rd)
True shooting percentage: 55.8 (6th)
Offensive rebound rate: 29.4 (3rd)
Turnover rate: 12.7 (5th)
Pace: 97.2 (13th)

What have they done lately?

Without Westbrook, the Thunder have won their first two games. The win vs. Charlotte was no big surprise but the blowout vs. the Rockets kind of was. Kevin Durant really took charge in the win over Houston in what felt like a statement from KD. Nothing really could have gone much better for the Thunder vs. Houston. If they can do more of the same, then they will be just fine until Westbrook gets back.

One of the biggest trends of late in the NBA has been Damian Lillard and his late-game heroics. Lillard nearly did it again last night when he hit a deep three-pointer to tie the game in the final seconds. Tyreke Evans responded with a jumper to give the Pelicans a 110-108 win over Portland. That was the second straight loss for Portland, who also lost to Miami on a last-second shot by Chris Bosh on Saturday. The two losses now have Oklahoma City sitting atop the Western Conference standings with the best record in the NBA.

The matchup

The Thunder now have the best record in the league, but let’s not forget how much Portland has accomplished this season to have themselves at the top of the standings as well. The Thunder and Blazers met once already this season with Portland getting the best of OKC.

LaMarcus Aldridge had a huge night and the Thunder were playing their second game of a back-to-back. Tonight, Portland will be the team on a back-to-back while the Thunder are coming off a great win vs. Houston.

The Blazers still pose a tough matchup to the Thunder in particular. They have size, an identity and a decent answer to matching up with KD in the form of Nicolas Batum.

Prediction

The Blazers have been as tough as any team in the league this season and the Thunder should still be looking to find ways to survive without Westbrook. But this may be a good night for the Thunder to handle a Blazers team that is on a back-to-back. At home, every play on the Thunder always plays well. They’ll need to tonight to take down Portland. I think they pull it out in a very close game.

Projected starters

Thunder
PG: Reggie Jackson (12.6 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.8 rpg)
SG: Thabo Sefolosha (6.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
SF: Kevin Durant (28.5 ppg, 4.8 apg, 8.3 rpg)
PF: Serge Ibaka (14.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg)
C: Kendrick Perkins (2.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg)

Trail Blazers
PG: Damian Lillard (21.4 ppg, 5.8 apg)
SG: Wes Matthews (16.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
SF: Nicolas Batum (13.9 ppg, 5.3 apg, 6.4 rpg)
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge (23.5 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.9 apg)
C: Robin Lopez (9.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg)

How to watch

The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. CST and air on NBATV and FSOklahoma.

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Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder

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