The Portland Trail Blazers are off to a decent start to the 2019-20 season, starting 2-2. They caught a tough break against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday when Damian Lillard’s three-point attempts did everything but fall down the stretch. He had a magnificent performance to bring his team back but just could not get a shot to stick as Portland fell 113-110. The team struggled without Zach Collins, as with he and Jusuf Nurkic out, the Blazers really don’t have many consistent big men to throw into the lineup for big minutes. After losing Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu in the offseason, they probably now regret letting both walk.
Oklahoma City, on the other hand, gave a good fight against the Houston Rockets on Monday, but ultimately could not help Chris Paul to knock his former team off. At 1-3, Oklahoma City has been competitive to this point in the year, with a starting unit featuring three newcomers to the team playing alongside holdovers Steven Adams and Terrence Ferguson. This is a team with a new identity with an eye on the future and all of those draft picks they brought in when they dealt Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the offseason. We’ll see what the season has in store for them.
The spread for Wednesday night’s game favors the visiting Blazers by two points. The over/under is set at 223 points.
Portland Looks To Climb Over .500
Anthony Tolliver drew the start in the team’s first game of many with Zach Collins sidelined and will likely get the nod in this one and draw the assignment of Danilo Gallinari. Hassan Whiteside surprisingly has fewer blocked shots than Kent Bazemore but has done a good job holding down the fort. They would prefer to have Nurkic at this point but will take what they have gotten, the trading away of Meyers Leonard not a move they seem to be regretting. Dame and CJ McCollum have been tearing it up and will look to keep it going.
Portland being only two-point favorites likely stems as a result of not having Collins available, as it changes their ability to alter lineups significantly. They don’t have many wings who can slide in at the 4, and they are tremendously undersized when playing Mario Hezonja or Bazemore at that spot.
Thunder Trying To Find Identity
It’s interesting to watch the Thunder and their rotations, consistently playing three point guards together, the lengthy Shai Gilgeous-Alexander able to hold down the fort at the small forward spot. He plays alongside Paul and Dennis Schroder in a lineup that features three ball-handlers who can all take it to the rim, and two of whom are great defenders. Gallinari has proven to be a great fit at the power forward spot, though he could be traded at any moment for a younger guy and possibly another pick if they don’t contend for a playoff spot.
Adams has continued to be a force for Oklahoma City, doing his thing and setting those Aron Baynes-like, bone-crushing picks. Watching him and Whiteside battle will be fun.
Oklahoma City Picks Up Home Win
2-3! 2-3! OKC will get its second win of the year as Gallinari’s 25-point night will power them past the short-handed Blazers.
Free Play: OKC +2
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