OKC Thunder film room: defensive keys to shut down Trail Blazers offense

Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images) /
1 of 7
OKC Thunder
Paul George stretches out for a block, OKC Thunder (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder fourth-ranked defense faces a tough test against the Portland Trail Blazers third-ranked offense. Tales of the tape reveal the keys to victory.

The NBA’s Northwest division provided a whopping four teams to the eight team playoff field. Two evenly matched teams from said division in the OKC Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers will face off in the first round of playoffs. OKC (49-33) swept Portland (53-29) for all four wins during the regular season with an average margin of victory of seven points, but that series alone does not define either of these teams’ capabilities.

Portland slithered its way into the number 3 seed while Oklahoma City jostled at the bottom of the pack before securing the 6 seed in the final night of the regular season, with help from Portland no less. In doing so, the Thunder avoided a first round match-up with the dreaded Golden State Warriors or Denver Nuggets.

Though OKC no doubt has the mental edge, the playoffs create a whole new season with each team regrouping and coming in with a fresh mindset and renewed motivation. Both squads enter the series on an upswing through their regular season finales. The Thunder went 5-0 to wrap up their 82-game marathon at a 7-3 clip in their final 10 games to include another thrilling victory over the Houston Rockets in the final seconds.

The Trail Blazers were no less successful having gone 8-2 in their final 10 games with their last game being a 28-point comeback over the Sacramento Kings using only six players, none of which were Portland’s typical starters.

Both teams know they have a tough test lying in front of them. Portland owns the NBA’s number 3 ranked offense while Oklahoma City owns the league’s number 4 ranked defense. Tales of the tape will help players and fans understand how OKC can gain the upper hand in what is sure to be a difficult first-round series.