Coming into this series a lot of people were picking the Oklahoma City Thunder to sweep the Portland Trail Blazers. That sweep isn’t happening and Portland has found a way to keep Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder in check as Portland once again beat the Thunder, to take a 2-0 series lead.
Early in the game the Thunder once again attacked Enes Kanter in the paint to get a quick lead. Then Paul George started to knock down some long twos which opened up space for him to get to the rim. The Thunder seemed to be on the verge of blowing out the Blazers going up by 11 in the middle of the second quarter.
It was then that Damian Lillard caught fire and brought the Blazers almost all the way back as the second quarter came to a close with the also red hot CJ McCollum tieing the game at 54-54 with a three as the buzzer sounded.
You could sense the Blazers were on to something. There was an energy in the Moda Center that began to shake the building and brought fire from deep within the Blazers. The turning point in the third quarter was when the fans were on their feet and Damian Lillard had Westbrook locked in a one-on-one. Lillard forced a turnover over, turned to the crowd pounding his chest and shouting at the crowd.
Lillard got the ball as the Blazers crossed halfcourt. His eyes locked with Westbrook’s and he calmly stepped into a 38 footer and drilled it.
The building erupted. Dame turned to the crowd and shouted, “bombs away!”
The Blazers second unit did not completely kill them this time around. The bench had 24 points and only five turnovers for the game. Seth Curry hit some timely threes and when Kanter got into foul trouble and had some sort of injury on his hand Meyers Leonard stepped in and delivered some top-notch defense and even hit a three.
During a key set of possessions in the third quarter with the Blazers about to blow the game open, Dennis Schroder looked like he had a few chances to blow by Leonard to get an easy bucket. The big man had other ideas. He moved his feet well, kept from reaching in and did not allow the Thunder to get a basket that span.
Leonard got a standing ovation for his effort.
The Blazers defense was on point tonight. They forced only 16 turnovers but forced the Thunder into a lot of bad shots. They got into Westbrook’s way a lot when he made his drives and kept him from getting to the basket. They forced Westbrook into three charges. Westbrook only had 14 points tonight on a typical Bad Russ night. They did a good job making OKC just a little uncomfortable and off of rhythm on numerous key possessions.
The Blazers are currently the only team in the NBA playoffs to have a 2-0 series lead as the series now transitions to Oklahoma City for games three and four. Apparently, when the Thunder are down 0-2 in a series they are 4-0 in game threes.