NBA Odds – OKC Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers
Zack GarrisonNo comments
Without their best player on the floor, the Oklahoma City Thunder will try to open the season with a win in a tough test against the Portland Trail Blazers tonight (10:30 p.m. Eastern).
The Thunder will be without last season’s MVP Kevin Durant, who will miss six-eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his foot. The Thunder will look to guard Russell Westbrook to lead the charge in Durant’s absence. Westbrook will have to keep the Thunder competitive, as a slow start could doom their season in the stacked Western Conference. Though coach Scott Brooks is confident that this is the year his squad will finally reach the Promised Land.
“We are close,” coach Scott Brooks said. “We’ve been close for a few years now. A lot of teams would love to be in this position. It’s a very competitive league.”
Reggie Jackson will start at point guard tonight, while Westbrook – who usually plays the point – moves to shooting guard.
Westbrook and company will be facing an ever-improving Portland squad. The Trail Blazers made it to the playoffs last season and edged out the Rockets in the first round. But, after that emotional series, Portland couldn’t muster much of a fight against the eventual champions, San Antonio. Forward LaMarcus Aldridge and point guard Damian Lillard took their game to another level last season, but they will need a lot more this season if they want to make a run at the Western Conference title.
“We need to be a better defensive team. We need to realize what made us a good offensive team and stick with that,” said Coach Terry Stotts, entering his third year with Portland. “After that, you just play the games.”
The Blazers are nine-point favorites heading into the game. They have dropped nine of 11 meetings against the Thunder, including five of six at home, but the obvious difference between the majority of those games and tonight’s contest is the absence of Durant.