The Oklahoma City Thunder enter the first round of the Western Conference playoffs with a 49-33 regular season record and 22-19 on the road. They take on the third seed Portland Trailblazers, who were 53-29 for the season and 32-9 at home. The season series was dominated by the Thunder, winning all four meetings.
If the first game between the teams, the Thunder prevailed in Portland by a 111-109 score. Paul George lead the Thunder with 30 points. Steven Adams hauled in 12 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook added seven assists. Damian Lillard paced Portland with 23 points. Al-Farouq Aminu had 15 rebounds, while Evan Turner added nine assists.
The second game was won by the Thunder at home by a 123-114 score. George again lead all players with 36 points, while Westbrook added ten rebounds and 14 assists. Lillard scored 34 and had eight assists for Portland in the loss, while Jusuf Nurkic hit the boards with regularity, securing 15 rebounds.
Another nine-point victory for the Thunder in the third meeting was in the making with George again dominating with 47 points. Westbrook added 14 rebounds and 11 assists. Lillard again lead the way for Portland with 31 points and six assists. Nurkic was the top rebounder for the Trailblazers, hauling in 12.
Try to avoid a sweep, the Trailblazers came up shot at home, losing in overtime by a 129-121 score. Westbrook lead the Thunder in scoring with 37 points, while George hauled in 14 rebounds. Damian Lillard had a monster game, scoring 51 points and nine assists in the loss.
Comparing the teams statistically, they were nearly identical in points scored, points allowed and rebounding. Oklahoma City ranked 7th, 15th and 2nd in those categories, while Portland ranked 6th, 14th and 3rd. Neither team was great at ball control, ranked in the middle or below in turnovers. Portland was the better 3pt-shooting team, ranked 9th in efficiency compared to 22nd for Oklahoma City.
Individually for the Thunder, George leads in scoring at 28 points per game. Westbrook averaged a triple-double at 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists. Dennis Schroder adds a solid third scoring option at 15.5 points, while Steven Adams does the dirty work underneath, averaging 13.9 points and 9.5 rebounds. Jerami Grants adds a long range threat off the bench, hitting 39 percent from beyond the arc.
The guard play of Lillard and CJ McCollum lead Portland. Lillard averaged 25.8 points and 6.9 assists, while McCollum adds 21 points on 38 percent from 3pt-point range. Nurkic was a beast on the boards all season, averaging 10.4 per game and is the team's third leading scorer. Enes Kanter has been stellar since arriving in Portland, averaging 13 points and 8.6 rebounds. Seth Curry adds a potent long range threat off the bench, hitting 45 percent for the season.
On paper, the teams are perhaps the most evenly match of all the first round games. However, the Thunder have clearly figured out how to beat the Trailblazers, winning all four by an average of seven points per game. Portland is stellar at home and should find a way to win a couple, but they don't appear to have an answer for what Oklahoma City has been throwing at them. Look for the Thunder to win the series in six game.