GAMEDAY PREVIEW: Thunder Host Blazers In Northwest Division Showdown

Wednesday, December 16th 2015, 6:20 pm
By: Brett Coppenbarger

Chesapeake Energy Arena should be rocking again tonight as the Thunder are back in action after a two-day break. Oklahoma City is set to host the Portland Trailblazers (11-15) at 7 p.m., and then the team will board a plane to Cleveland for a game against the Cavaliers tomorrow night.

Here are a couple things to know about tonight’s contest:

Slow down Lillard

LaMarcus Aldridge is no longer a Blazer, therefore the fate of the franchise is in the hands of point guard Damian Lillard, and the fourth-year pro out of Weber State is more than capable of taking the reins. Despite Portland’s less than stellar record, Lillard is averaging 24.7 points per game to go with 6.7 assists and nearly five rebounds.

Clearly Lillard is one of the few bright spots on this roster, along with guard C.J. McCollum—who’s having a fairly impressive year of his own. Both Lillard and McCollum are depended on heavily to produce on a nightly basis, and when those two guys aren’t hitting, the Blazers struggle to find ways to get the ball in the basket.

Look for both guards to shoot a lot tonight as they try to keep up with the Thunder’s high-powered offense.

Blazers face an uphill climb

The Trailblazers have been solid team in recent seasons, but with almost a completely new roster this year, Portland has struggled to string together a lot of wins. The Blazers are competitive on most nights, but a seven-game losing streak throughout November put them in a tough situation.

They now sit just half a game out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, so to rule them out completely would be foolish, but a win over the Thunder would be huge for a team that faces a tough schedule throughout the rest of December.

Portland still has to face teams such as the Magic, Heat, Hawks, Cavs and Jazz all before the calendar changes to 2016. Not to mention, the Thunder are riding a five game winning streak into this contest, so the hill can’t get much steeper for the Blazers.