Now, normally a No. 6 seed doesn’t exactly stand a great chance to upset a No. 3 seed, but the Thunder aren’t exactly your traditional No. 6 seed. In fact, it’s definitely not crazy to think that Oklahoma City could pull off the upset in this series.
The Trail Blazers are dealing with a host of injuries, so the Thunder could certainly have a big advantage in the series even though they’re going to be playing the first two games in Portland. The dynamic duo of Paul George and Russell Westbrook could definitely prove to be the difference.
Here’s everything you need to know about this first-round matchup between the Trail Blazers and the Thunder.
No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder
How to watch Game 1
- Date: Sunday, April 14
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Moda Center — Portland, Oregon
- TV channel: ABC
- Online streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: Trail Blazers -2.5
Playoff series schedule
All times Eastern
- Game 1 (at POR): Sunday, April 14, 3:30 p.m. — TV: ABC
- Game 2 (at POR): Tuesday, April 16, 10:30 p.m. — TV: TNT
- Game 3 (at OKC): Friday, April 19, 9:30 p.m. — TV: ESPN
- Game 4 (at OKC): Sunday, April 21, 9:30 p.m. — TV: TNT
- Game 5* (at POR): Tuesday, April 23, TBD — TV: TBD
- Game 6* (at OKC): Thursday, April 25, TBD — TV: TBD
- Game 7* (at POR): Saturday, April 27, TBD — TV: TBD
Odds and Analysis
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Thunder: Oklahoma City was one of the more talented teams in the Western Conference for the majority of the season before losing four consecutive games late in the year and falling in the standings. However, this is a team that made the necessary moves last summer with the subtraction of Carmelo Anthony and the additions of Dennis Schroder and Nerlens Noel to the bench. The Thunder have the depth to make a deep postseason run and could easily upset the Trail Blazers.
Trail Blazers: Portland definitely had a ton of potential late in the year before losing Jusuf Nurkic for the remainder of the season. Now the Trail Blazers will have to rely on their stellar backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to carry the scoring load like they traditionally have in years past. The frontcourt battle could certainly be a huge disadvantage for the Trail Blazers.
Matchups to watch
1. Paul George/Russell Westbrook: The Thunder are going to go as far as their dynamic duo of Paul George and Russell Westbrook will take them. Oklahoma City scored a huge victory when the franchise was able to re-sign George last summer. In addition, Westbrook just finished up averaging a triple-double for the third consecutive season. If these two are playing at their usual high level, the sky is the limit for Oklahoma City.
2. Battle of frontcourts: The Trail Blazers were a very dangerous team throughout the regular season, but suffered a potentially fatal blow late in the year. Center Nurkic suffered a season-ending leg injury and will be out for several months. Luckily, Portland did sign Enes Kanter after Kanter was bought out by the New York Knicks late in the season. Since joining the team, Kanter has been incredibly productive as he’s averaged 13.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting 54.9 percent from the field. If Kanter can get the best of former teammate Steven Adams, this could definitely be a very interesting series.
3. Repeat of last season for Blazers: Portland was the No. 3 seed in the postseason last year and ended up getting swept by another No. 6 seed in the New Orleans Pelicans. The Trail Blazers were very underwhelming despite losing three of the four games by single digits. It’s safe to say that Damian Lillard is going to have to play at an extremely high level and McCollum will need to thrive shooting from the perimeter. It’s definitely going to be an uphill battle, to say the least.
Series prediction, pick
Thunder in six: This is certainly one of the more intriguing matchups in the opening round of the playoffs. The Thunder spent the majority of the regular season as one of the top four teams in the Western Conference before dealing with a rough patch during the final month of the regular season.
The Blazers were able to secure home-court advantage in the opening round after leapfrogging the Houston Rockets on the final night of the season. However, Portland did the same thing last season and ended up being swept in the first round.
The Thunder have a ton of firepower and the Trail Blazers are going to be shorthanded without Jusuf Nurkic. In addition, C.J. McCollum is dealing with a knee injury and it’s unclear if that’ll hamper him throughout the series. There’s just too much talent on the Thunder roster and that could be the difference in the series.