Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers had little trouble holding onto homecourt advantage in the first two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder behind a stout defensive effort. The Trail Blazers will try to bring that defense on the road and take a commanding 3-0 series lead when they visit the sixth-seeded Thunder on Friday.
Lillard averaged 29.5 points in the first two games of the series to carry the offense but also drew raves for his work on the defensive end against former MVP Russell Westbrook. "I think as a group obviously we're all trying - everybody's trying to play defense, but I think Dame is really focused on both ends of the floor," Portland coach Terry Stotts told reporters after a 114-94 win in Game 2. "He knows how important it is at both ends of the floor. To be honest, Damian's defense has improved over time and I think he's a much better defensive player than people give him credit for, but there's no question he was locked in tonight." Westbrook and Oklahoma City aren't panicking after dropping the first two and still feel confident about their chances in the series. "They won their first two home games," Westbrook told reporters. "We obviously wanted to try to steal one when we can, but the message is just stay with it. A lot of great guys on this basketball team that I trust in to make shots and make plays on both sides of the basketball. We'll be alright."
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, NBCS Northwest (Portland), FS Oklahoma LINE: Thunder -7.5
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS: Lillard and backcourt mate CJ McCollum combined for 62 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in Game 2 and are trying to keep the focus on one game at a time. "I know how quickly things can change," Lillard told reporters. "I know that a series doesn't start until you win a game on the road. I also know how capable their team is. So, we've just got to maintain our focus, stay sharp in the things we've been sharp in and understand how well we played in the first game and the second game is not going to be good enough in the third game, especially on their home floor. We've got to keep our heads down and keep working." McCollum, who missed over three weeks toward the end of the season with a knee injury, appears fully recovered and poured in 33 points in 36 minutes in Game 2.
ABOUT THE THUNDER: Oklahoma City committed 16 turnovers in each of the first two games and pointed toward the miscues as one reason for the stagnant offense. "Turnovers are always going to hurt you if you're not getting a shot at the basket," Thunder coach Billy Donovan told reporters after Game 2. "I felt like we didn't move the ball as well as we needed to in the third quarter in terms of generating penetration, finding the open man and moving it when they were bringing help." Westbrook committed six turnovers in Game 2 and was held to 14 points on 5-of-20 shooting with Lillard serving as his primary defender.
1. The Thunder are 10-of-61 from 3-point range in the series.
2. Portland SG Seth Curry is 5-of-7 from beyond the arc through the first two games.
3. Oklahoma City SF Jerami Grant is 3-of-15 from the floor in the series.
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Key Players to Watch
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
- POINTS/G 2159 Paul George #13 | SF
- REBOUNDS OFFENSIVE/G 391 Steven Adams #12 | C
- ASSISTS/G 784 Russell Westbrook #0 | PG
- 3 POINTS % 292 Paul George #13 | SF
- REBOUNDS DEFENSIVE/G 698 Russell Westbrook #0 | PG
- BLOCKS/G 100 Jerami Grant #9 | SF
- STEALS/G 170 Paul George #13 | SF
- TURNOVERS/G 9 Deonte Burton #30 | PG
Portland Trail Blazers
- RibsProb Mon | probable
Lillard is expected to suit up against the Warriors in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Warriors despite battling through separated ribs.
- KneeProb Thurs | probable
Hood is battling a bone bruise in his left knee but is likely to play in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Warriors.
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oklahoma-city-thunder Stats 2018-2019