NBA Starting Lineups and Match Prediction - Oklahoma City Thunder vs Portland Trailblazers - Game 1
The Oklahoma City Thunder will start their 2019 NBA playoffs by going up against the Portland Trail Blazers. This is a matchup we've all been waiting for, and it is expected to be a really competitive one.
The Thunder, who suffered two straight first round playoff exits in 2017 and 2018, will be looking to change that this year. The Blazers are in a similar situation as they also lost in the first round in the last two years.
When: 15th April, 1:00 AM IST
Where: Moda Center, Portland
The Oklahoma City Thunder's perspective
When the Thunder acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony last year, everyone expected them to go deep in the playoffs. But that did not happen as they suffered yet another first round exit.
What made the matters worse was the fact that they lost to a then rookie Donovan Mitchell and his Utah Jazz.
However, this season has been entirely different so far for the Thunder as Paul George has been playing his career-best basketball and is one of the top 3 MVP candidates. He is also a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and has been a huge part of the regular season success that the team has had.
As per the recent update, the Thunder have listed George (shoulder soreness) as day-to-day, but he expects to be on the court in Game 1.
Predicted Oklahoma City Thunder starting line-up:
Paul George (F), Jerami Grant (F), Steven Adams (C), Terrance Ferguson (G) and Russell Westbrook (G)
The Portland Trail Blazers' perspective
The Portland Trail Blazers have played exceptionally well and clinched the third seed in the West for the second straight year. However, they have also been really unfortunate to lose Jusuf Nurkic to a season-ending leg injury.
They will have a really hard time matching up against the Thunder without Nurkic; Steven Adams could have much easier time in his absence. That said, the Blazers still have players like Enes Kanter and Meyers Leonard who can dominate in the paint, so it's not all gloom and doom for them.
Predicted Portland Trail Blazers' starting line-up:
Maurice Harkless (F), Al-Farouq Aminu (F), Enes Kanter (C), CJ McCollum (G) and Damian Lillard (G)
How the things might unfold
Even though the Blazers got swept by the Thunder 4-0 in the regular season series, all those matches were close and went down to the wire. It was George who made the difference, and the Blazers had no answer for him.
However, the playoffs will be a completely different ball game. With one of the best point guards in Damian Lillard, the Blazers can never be taken lightly.
While the Thunder will walk into the series as the favorites to win the series, we can expect some really competitive games.
Oklahoma City Thunder to beat the Portland Trail Blazers.