With 25 games, give or take, left for most teams, potential playoff matchups are starting to line up. However, we’re also far enough out that enough movement is possible to line up all sorts of different things. Today the staff of Hardwood Paroxysm is laying out our fantasy playoff matchups, the first round contests we’d most like to see.
A Blazing hot first round: Portland vs Oklahoma City
By Zach Oliver (@ZachOliverNBA) — Friendly Bounce
I’m going to start off by saying any matchup that we get in the Western Conference is going to be a lot of fun. I think all eight teams that make it bring something unique to every potential matchup.
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Portland and Oklahoma City won’t end up getting matched in the first round, unless something really bizarre happens. But, it’s a matchup that, at least on paper, would be highly intriguing.
Portland has put together a phenomenal season, and has done so dealing with a rash of injuries to key players. Nicolas Batum has not been himself all season; Robin Lopez missed a good chunk of time; LaMarcus Aldridge is playing with a freaking ligament tear in his thumb!
Now, while the Blazers have had their fair share of injuries, the Thunder have been depleted multiple times this season, and have hung tough through it all. First the MVP goes down with a foot injury. Then Russell Westbrook hurts his knee, then not even a week into the season, the team was playing with eight players, five of which were big men. They were able to tread enough water, however, and hang close enough to make a push once they got healthy.
Yet, whenever they got healthy, another domino would fall. Westbrook went down again. Then Durant. Now, once again, both Durant and Westbrook are out. The fact they’re still in the hunt with all of those injuries is nothing short of a miracle.
Looking past the rash of injuries both teams have suffered through, this matchup has some very interesting possibilities. Westbrook vs Lillard; Durant vs Batum; Aldridge vs Serge Ibaka. The list seemingly goes on and on.
The two conference foes bring forth resumes that matchup well together. Portland currently sits 10th in offensive rating and tied for fourth in defensive rating, with the Thunder coming in tied for 14th and 10th respectfully.
We saw the two sides get a little chippy late in their last matchup as well, with Ibaka and Aldridge going face to face after Ibaka committed a foul on Batum. We’ve seen the last few years what a matchup with some chippiness can bring — Hello Warriors and Clippers — so that would just add yet another dynamic to it.
We saw them play an entertaining game on Friday night, and that was without Durant. Imagine what we could see in a seven game series with everyone fully healthy. Absolute pure mayhem!
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