Thanks to the continued dominance of Paul George, OKC has been able to overcome the shocking struggles of Westbrook. They are still one of the hottest teams in the league and will be looking to keep it going.
Portland is always a big question mark, and you never know what kind of effort they will come out with. Jusuf Nurkic is coming off a wildly impressive historic performance, but will anybody besides Nurk, Dame, and CJ, actually show up?
With the #11 scoring defense, combined with their top-12 scoring offense, life is good in OKC. They have found a bench-gem in former Celtic Abdel Nader, who has been scoring at will since filling in for Paul George as a starter in his one-game absence. He and Dennis Schroder continue to do a great job of pacing the second unit, while Steven Adams continues to beast alongside PG. Terrance Ferguson has not shown them much as a starter, though he has remained out there with the first unit regularly. Billy Donovan must love his energy.
Back to Russ. He is somehow shooting just 41% from the floor, 23% from three, and 63% at the line. His stat-line is wildly impressive, and he is still averaging a triple-double, but these shooting numbers are puzzling. Eventually, it’ll catch up with him and slow the team down, but as long as they keep winning, what is there to complain about?
They are the definition of a middle-of-the-pack team. #14 in scoring, #16 in points allowed, and the fifth seed in the West. Dame is posting 27 points per game, with CJ at 21. Nurkic is averaging a double-double and sharing the ball well. Their bench has had some great moments, but nothing to carry them to regular wins. They could really consider going back to Jake Layman as a starter over Harkless, as he has had some very good moments for these guys this season. Anyway, the lack of consistency from Sauce Castillo has not helped in the slightest.
They had a game with the Warriors where Seth Curry actually outperformed his brother, which was a sight to behold. On another bench note, they are surely missing both Shabazz Napier and Ed Davis, who powered that unit last season, giving them great minutes as well as production. Meyers Leonard and Zach Collins have been solid, but Ed Davis is still a guy who would be great if he was still here, and not in Brooklyn.
OKC keeps it rolling, gets their 25th win
They will get it done tonight, and Russ will be scoring at will. His subtle jabs at players have not gone unnoticed (Air guitar in Lance’s face), but tonight he will get his shot to go. PG will also be dropping 35.
Portland will not get any help outside of their top trio, and it will haunt them again, as the home fans won’t go home happy.
Free Pick: Thunder
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