Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder: Game preview, TV channel

Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder The Portland Trail Blazers (21-18) visit the Oklahoma City Thunder (22-18) Tuesday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder Here are the details: TV channel: NBC Sports Northwest (Comcast/Xfinity channel 37, or 737 for HD) and NBA TV

Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder Online: Watch a live stream on NBA League Pass (Subscription is required. League Pass is not available locally and is blacked out for nationally televised games.) There are a variety of other streaming options, which are listed.

ABOUT THE THUNDER

Oklahoma City is coming off a 114-100 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. … Russell Westbrook had 26 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists and Paul George added 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists. … It was a troubling loss for the Thunder who had appeared to have turned the corner after a slow start to the season. … Oklahoma City went 12-5 in December, the third best record of any team in the league. … The Thunder have the best offensive rating in the league since Dec. 15, scoring 115.7 points per 100 possessions. … Oklahoma City has seemingly fixed the offensive issues it had to begin the season and remains a top tier defense. The Thunder are fifth in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 102.8 points per 100 possessions. Oklahoma City’s defense thrives on turnovers as the Thunder rank first in the NBA in steals per game while forcing a league-best 16.6 turnovers per game. However, Oklahoma City is playing without its best perimeter defender as Andre Roberson is sidelined with a left kneecap injury. … The Thunder are still driven by Russell Westbrook’s tour de force intensity, but their in-season improvement has been marked by his improved efficiency. … Oklahoma City is 9-5 when Westbrook shoots over 50 percent from the floor and 13-12 when he makes less than half his field goal attempts. Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

ABOUT THE BLAZERS

Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder Blazers have won five of their past seven games after beating the San Antonio Spurs, 111-110, on Sunday night. … CJ McCollum had 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists and made the game-winning basket when his floater rolled in off the back rim with 5.9 seconds remaining. The Blazer also got big nights from Shabazz Napier (15 points, five rebounds, seven assists) and Moe Harkless (19 points, five rebounds). … Damian Lillard was ruled out of Sunday’s game an hour before tip off with a right calf strain. Lillard has been dealing with right leg issues for three weeks. He missed five games with a right hamstring strain and then injured his calf in his first game back. … He played through the calf discomfort on Friday against Atlanta, but Lillard was held out of action as the training staff didn’t want him to further aggravate the injury against San Antonio. … The Blazers are 4-2 without Lillard in the lineup this season. … Portland has struggled offensively most of the season, but has play some its best offense over the last four games thanks in large part to improved ball movement and better finishing around the basket. … This is the second of four regular season meetings between the Blazers and Thunder this season. The Blazers won the first meeting in Portland, 103-99, on Nov. 5 in a game where Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony was ejected in the second half.

Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder After taking down the San Antonio Spurs in one of the few exciting games the Moda Center has seen all season, the Portland Trail Blazers kick off a tough four-game road trip against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Damian Lillard will not suit up for Portland as he continues to recover from a strained right calf. Likely starting in his place will be Shabazz Napier, who has averaged more than 18 points per game as a starter this season.

What to Watch For

Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder How will Oklahoma City’s Big Three play together? Earlier in the season, the Thunder struggled mightily as they tried to integrate their two new stars, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, into the offense. Lately, both have taken more of a back seat to Russell Westbrook, who is putting up 28/10/10 over the last 18 games.

Portland’s wings may have a rough night. Though Al-Farouq Aminu, Pat Connaughton and even Moe Harkless have all had various levels of offensive success this season, they’re going to have a hard time getting going with Paul George, one of the best two-way players in the NBA, roaming the perimeter. Scoring may have to come from elsewhere Tuesday night.

Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder McCollun might have an advantage. Though the Thunder have one of the best defenders in the NBA in George, they are missing their lockdown shooting guard, Andre Roberson. While Roberson struggles mightily on the offensive end, he is able to effectively guard nearly any shooting guard in the league. Look for Terrance Ferguson to get the start and match up against CJ McCollum. While Ferguson is an athletic player with promise, he’s nowhere near the defender Roberson is.

What They’re Saying Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City ThunderPortland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript writes about how the Thunder offense is becoming one of the best in the NBA: Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder offense bottomed out Dec. 18, when it was averaging just 102.2 points per 100 possessions. The team had started to squeak out some wins by then, winning seven of its previous 10 games to climb back to .500 for the first time in more than a month-and-a-half. The offense of a group cluttered with stars, however, still wasn’t flowing.

In the nine games since Dec. 19, the Thunder are scoring 118.6 points per 100 possessions, giving them the NBA’s best offense over that time Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

“We knew we’d get to this point. We definitely knew that,” George said. “We knew it was going to take some time. There was some stuff we were going to have to figure out but that’s what we signed up and wanted to be together for is for these moments, battles like this.”

Maybe it’s no coincidence Dec. 19 is the marker when it all started to change. That was, after all, only one game following Anthony’s proclamation following a Dec. 16 loss at the New York Knicks. Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

“That’s what we have to figure out, what we have to nail down as far as the roles that we all have on this team,” Anthony said then when asked about his role. “I think until we kind of figure that part out, we will continue having these ups and down, having good games and bad games, relying just on our talent, our skill level to get us through.” Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder SB Nation’s Seerat Sehi writes about Andre Roberson’s importance to the Thunder:

None of this is to say the Thunder should look elsewhere for their fifth starter. Quite the opposite. Roberson is Oklahoma’s peskiest defender, a conundrum only because of how effective he is on that end. For the Thunder, whose playoff hopes will rest on overpowering opponents with their elite athleticism, defense, and size, Roberson is a key to the formula. When the offense grinds to a halt, and Roberson gets hacked and sent to the line, it may feel like the Thunder can’t live with him. There’s no getting around this: It’s frustrating to watch. But in the grand scheme, they can’t live without him either.Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Yes, without Roberson, life would be easier for the Thunder. They would also have a lower ceiling.Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

The heart of the matter is this: Even in an age of educated sports fans armed with sophisticated player tracking data and advanced stats that have flattened the importance of one-on-one offense and shone a light on vital role players, defense still isn’t valued as much as offense. If Roberson’s offensive equivalent was the worst defender in the NBA, nobody would dream of sending him to the bench. He’d be a superstar.

Maybe it’s because individual defense remains difficult to quantify. But here’s a snapshot of what happens in his absence. The starters, with Roberson, have an 11.3 net rating, with a defense that allows just 96.3 points per 100 possessions. With Alex Abrines — who is admittedly far below replacement level as a defender — starting in his place, the Thunder allow a maddening 116 points per 100 possessions. That 20-point swing morphs Oklahoma City’s defense from the NBA’s best to its worst. Despite the fact that Paul George is playing stifling, career-high level defense, Roberson has the best defensive rating of the starters.

It’s a clash of Northwest Division rivals down in the Sooner State. The Portland Trail Blazers are on the road as they travel to face the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night. Portland won their second straight by edging San Antonio 111-110 at home Sunday night. Oklahoma City missed a chance at a perfect 3-0 trip as they were knocked off 114-100 by Phoenix on the road Sunday. The Thunder holds a narrow 116-113 edge in the all-time regular season series but Portland has won three straight, including a 103-99 home win in the first matchup this season on November 5.

Portland Trail Blazers Look for Fourth Straight Win vs. Thunder

Portland avenged a two-point loss to San Antonio at the Moda Center last month by slipping past with a one-point win Sunday night. The Trail Blazers moved to within three games of the Timberwolves for the top spot in the Northwest Division and within half a game of the Thunder for second place. Portland prevailed in a tense, back and forth game when CJ McCollum hit a floater with five seconds to play.  The Trail Blazers shot a solid 52.2 percent from the floor and connected on eight of 23 three-point attempts. Portland kept San Antonio in the game at the free throw line: the Trail Blazers were seven of 10 at the stripe to the Spurs’ 19 of 26. McCollum had 25 points to lead Portland in the win. Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder The Trail Blazers come into this one 21st in the league in scoring with 102.9 points per game. The Trail Blazers are 8th in the league in rebounding as they collect 44.8 boards a night. Portland is 30th in the league in assists with 18.8 per contest. The Trail Blazers are above average defensively as they come in 6th in the league by allowing 101.8 points a night. Damian Lillard is leading the team in scoring for the Blazers as he rings up 24.9 points per game while dishing out 6.3 assists per contest. Lillard missed five games with a strained hamstring before returning against the Cavaliers January 2. He missed the game against the Spurs and is questionable here. CJ McCollum (21.3 points) and Maurice Harkless are both veteran options for the Blazers. Al-Farouq Aminu (9.5 points, 6.8 rebounds), Jusuf Nurkic (14.6 points, eight rebounds), Pat Connaughton, Ed Davis, Meyers Leonard and Evan Turner (8.5 points, 3.7 rebounds) all contribute solidly on the offensive end for Portland’s attack. Portland is tied for 24th in the league in field goal percentage by shooting 44.8 percent from the floor. The Trail Blazers are knocking down 9.4 three-pointers a night, which is 22nd in the leaguewhile ranking 8th in the league by shooting 37.2 percent from downtown. Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

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