NBA Picks 2012: Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City ThunderPortland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder
Tip Off: 8:05 PM EST
Spread: OKC -8.5
M/L: OKC -450, POR +370
Betting Odds from Bookmaker
The Oklahoma City Thunder lost their opening game of the year to the Spurs by two points. Russell Westbrook struggled badly, hitting just 6 of his 21 shots en route to 18 points, and Kevin Durant wasn’t his usual self either, scoring 23 on 9-of-18 shooting, as he found Kawhi Leonard to be a tough defender. Leonard came up with five steals for the second game straight for the 2-0 Spurs.
The Thunder will look to get their first win of the season tonight against a Trail Blazers squad that they are 8.5 point favorites against according to NBA oddsmakers.
The Blazers have already upset the L.A. Lakers, though, and there’s no reason for the Thunder to try to look past tonight’s game.
Damian Lillard is emerging as the dark horse candidate for Rookie of the Year, and LaMarcus Aldridge is still one of the top power forwards in the game. Add to that tandem, an emerging Nicolas Batum and a sharpshooting Wes Matthews, and this Portland squad is one that can surprise any given team on any given night.
People still aren’t classifying the Trail Blazers as a playoff team in the deep Western Conference, but a win over the Thunder tonight would go a long ways towards changing that.
The Thunder are still seeking to prove that the James Harden trade didn’t significantly weaken their squad. The main chip they received in return, Kevin Martin, had a great game in his Thunder debut, scoring 15 points while hitting 3-of-6 from downtown. Martin will need to fill Harden’s role as a sixth man and provide scoring off the Thunder bench.
Thabo Sefolosha will likely remain the starter for the defensive presence he brings at the two-guard position. He’ll have the job of slowing Matthews and/or Batum, tonight.
Portland is an underrated squad whose main problem may just end up being a lack of depth. Their starting five is very solid (Lillard, Matthews, Batum, Aldridge, and J.J. Hickson), but they just don’t have much coming off the bench. With guys like Ronnie Price, Sasha Pavlovic, Victor Claver, and Jared Jefferies backing up their main unit, they’re going to struggle when they get into the second quarter and need to rest their starters. Keep an eye on Terry Stotts’ strategy with minute allocation, as he won’t want to play his starters too much, yet can’t afford not to.
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