Numbers preview: Portland Trail Blazers (3) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (6)

NBA.com Global on Apr 14, 2019 07:19 PM
Numbers preview: Trail Blazers (3) vs. Thunder (6)
NBAE via Getty Images

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com

The Portland Trail Blazers, losers of 10 straight playoff games, have rebounded from their latest first-round exit to finish in the top four in the tough Western Conference for a second straight season. But less than three weeks from the playoffs, the Blazers lost center Jusuf Nurkic (their second most important player) to a devastating leg injury.

Portland went 7-2 after losing Nurkic, scoring more than 117 points per 100 possessions over the nine games. Scoring consistently against the defense of the Oklahoma City Thunder should be a tougher task.

The Thunder have had their own ups and downs. And they were the other victims of a first-round upset last year. But with the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets both on the other side of the Western Conference bracket, there's an opportunity for a team on this side to get to the conference finals and put past disappointments behind them.

This is one of two series (Houston-Utah is the other) that pits a top-five offense vs. a top-five defense. And it could be on the Portland end of the floor where this series is ultimately decided.

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Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the 3-6 series in the West.

Portland Trail Blazers (53-29)

Pace: 100.0 (18)
OffRtg: 113.6 (3)
DefRtg: 109.5 (16)
NetRtg: +4.1 (7)

Blazers notes - General:

1. Led the league in rebounding percentage, grabbing 52.6 percent of available rebounds.

2. Were 0-17 after trailing by 15 points or more before coming back from 28 down to beat Sacramento on the last night of the season. Cleveland (0-54) was the only team that didn't have a win after trailing by 15 or more.

Blazers notes - Offense:

1. Were the league's second most improved offensive team, scoring 5.3 more points per 100 possessions than they did last season. Only Sacramento (+6.6) saw a bigger jump.

2. One of three teams (Cleveland and Houston were the others) that ranked in the bottom five in both ball movement (304 passes per 24 minutes of possession, 28th) and player movement (10.9 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession, 26th), according to Second Spectrum tracking.

3. Saw the third biggest increase in the percentage of their field goals that were assisted, from 49.6 percent (30th) last season to 54.4 percent (27th) this season.

4. Only 11.0 percent of their possessions, the league's second lowest rate, were in transition. Led the league in time of possession (22.3 minutes per game).

5. Ranked 29th in catch-and-shoot 3-pointers (6.9 per game) and 30th in corner 3-pointers (1.8 per game). Only 16.2 percent of their 3-point attempts, the league's lowest rate, came from the corners.

Blazers notes - Defense:

1. Ranked 11th defensively in the first half of games (106.9 points allowed per 100 possessions) and 26th defensively in the second half (112.3).

2. Ranked in the bottom five in opponent turnover percentage for the seventh straight season.

3. 21.2 percent of opponent possessions, the league's second highest opponent rate, were pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions, according to Synergy play-type tracking.

4. Drew just 0.22 charges per game, a rate which ranked 29th.

Blazers notes - Lineups:

1. Regular (when healthy) lineup - Lillard, McCollum, Harkless, Aminu and Nurkic - played 744 total minutes, third most in the league. It scored 116.0 points per 100 possessions, second most among 40 lineups that played at least 200 minutes together.

2. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum played 2,054 minutes together, more than they played together in any other season. The Blazers outscored their opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions with both on the floor, up from plus-4.9 last season. The two guards played only 70 minutes together with new starting center Enes Kanter, and the Blazers were outscored by 2.1 points per 100 possessions in those 70 minutes.

3. Portland was outscored by 6.7 points per 100 possessions in 156 minutes with Rodney Hood and Evan Turner on the floor without either Lillard or McCollum.

Blazers notes - Individuals:

1. Zach Collins attempted 31.5 free throws for every 100 shots from the field, up from 14.5 last season. That was the biggest jump in free throw rate among 229 players with at least 250 field goal attempts both seasons. Jusuf Nurkic (from 28.7 to 44.2) and Al-Farouq Aminu (from 13.7 to 29.2) saw the third and fourth biggest jumps, respectively, among the same group of players.

2. Seth Curry ranked third in 3-point percentage at 44.4 percent. He shot 49.7 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, the best mark among 223 players who attempted at least 100.

3. Maurice Harkless shot 27.5 percent from 3-point range, down from 41.5 percent last season. That was the second biggest drop among 193 players with at least 100 3-point attempts both seasons.

4. Enes Kanter ranked third in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 13.8 percent of available offensive boards while he was on the floor. He ranked second with 6.1 second chance points per 36 minutes.

5. Jake Layman shot 73.8 percent in the restricted area, the third best mark among 186 players with at least 150 restricted-area attempts.

6. Layman had an effective field goal percentage of 49.3 percent after the All-Star break, down from 62.5 percent before the break. That was the third biggest drop-off among 202 players with at least 250 field goal attempts before the break and at least 100 after it.

7. Damian Lillard is one of three (qualified) players (Kevin Durant and James Harden are the others) that have averaged at least 25 points per game in each of the last four seasons.

8. Lillard ranked fifth with 10.9 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions per game. He scored 1.08 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, the best mark among 43 players that averaged at least five ball-handler possessions.

9. Lillard shot 91.2 percent from the free throw line, the best mark among 35 players that averaged at least five attempts per game.

10. C.J. McCollum was one of three players (Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay were the others) who shot better than 50 percent on at least 200 mid-range attempts.

11. Evan Turner led the league with two triple-doubles off the bench.

Oklahoma City Thunder (49-33)

Pace: 103.4 (6)
OffRtg: 109.8 (16)
DefRtg: 106.4 (4)
NetRtg: +3.4 (9)

Thunder notes - General:

1. Saw the league's third biggest increase in pace, averaging 6.0 more possessions per 48 minutes than they did last season.

2. Were the only Western Conference playoff team that had a losing record after the All-Star break, but finished the season with the league's longest active winning streak (five games).

3. Led the league with 18 wins (they were 18-29) after trailing by double-digits.

Thunder notes - Offense:

1. One of only five teams that scored fewer points per 100 possessions this season (109.8) than they did last season (109.9).

2. Ranked 29th in ball movement, averaging just 300 passes per 24 minutes of possession, according to Second Spectrum tracking.

3. 8.9 percent of their possessions, the league's second highest rate, were isolations.

4. Ranked last in clutch field goal percentage, shooting 38.2 percent with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. Ranked 25th in clutch 3-point percentage (26.8 percent).

Thunder notes - Defense:

1. One of two teams (Indiana is the other) that have had a better-than-average defense (allowing fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average) in each of the last 10 seasons.

2. Led the league in opponent turnover percentage for the second straight season.

3. Ranked fifth in opponent field goal percentage in the restricted area (60.9 percent), but 28th in the percentage of their opponents' shots that came from there (36 percent).

4. Allowed just 0.79 points per possession, the league's second lowest rate, on pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions.

Thunder notes - Lineups:

1. Starting lineup - Westbrook, Ferguson, George, Grant and Adams - played 919 total minutes, most in the league.

2. Lineup with Dennis Schroder in place of Ferguson played 434 minutes, 13th most. It played at a pace of 111.6 possessions per 48 minutes, fastest among 40 lineups that played at least 200 minutes together.

3. Westbrook, Grant and Adams played 1,826 minutes together, most among any group of three teammates.

4. The Thunder were 17.1 points per 100 possessions better with George on the floor (plus-8.1) than they were with him off the floor (minus-9.0). That was the third biggest on-off NetRtg differential among 256 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single team.

Thunder notes - Individuals:

1. For the second straight season, Steven Adams had more offensive rebounds (391) than defensive rebounds (369). No other player in the last 20 years has averaged at least 7.5 rebounds per game, with more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds.

2. Terrance Ferguson had a usage rate of just 10.4 percent, the fifth lowest rate among 230 players who averaged at least 20 minutes in 40 games or more.

3. 54 percent of Ferguson's 3-point attempts came from the corners. That was the third highest rate among 262 players with at least 100 total 3-point attempts. Jerami Grant (53 percent) had the fifth highest rate among the same group.

4. Paul George ranked second in the league in scoring (28.0 points per game). He scored 0.469 points per touch, the highest rate among 340 players with at least 1,000 total touches.

5. George led the league in both steals (2.2) and deflections (3.8) per game.

6. Grant attempted 26.9 free throws for every 100 shots from the field, down from 52.6 last season. That was the second biggest drop in free throw rate among 229 players with at least 250 field goal attempts both seasons.

7. Nerlens Noel averaged 5.1 deflections per 36 minutes, the most among players who played a total of 1,000 minutes. He also averaged 3.3 blocks per 36 minutes, third most among that same group.

8. Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the third straight season, registering career highs in both rebounds (11.1 - 10th in the league) and assists (10.7 - first) per game.

9. Westbrook led the league with 294 assists on 3-pointers. He was also the only player in the league with at least 150 assists to multiple teammates. He had 184 to Adams, 166 to Grant, and 164 to George.

10. On shots from outside the paint, Westbrook had an effective field goal percentage of 38.1 percent, the second lowest mark (higher than only that of Giannis Antetokounmpo) among 218 players with at least 200 field goal attempts from outside the paint. He shot 31.8 percent from mid-range, the worst mark among players with at least 200 mid-range attempts, and 29.0 percent from 3-point range, the worst mark among players with at least 250 3-point attempts.

Regular season matchup

Season series: Oklahoma City won, 4-0
Jan. 4 (Jan. 5, PHL time) @ Portland - Thunder 111, Blazers 109
Jan. 22 (Jan. 23, PHL time) @ Oklahoma City - Thunder 123, Blazers 114
Feb. 11 (Feb. 12, PHL time) @ Oklahoma City - Thunder 120, Blazers 111
Mar. 7 (Mar. 8, PHL time) @ Portland - Thunder 129, Blazers 121 (OT)

Pace: 103.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes
Portland OffRtg: 106.8 (13th vs. Oklahoma City)
Oklahoma City OffRtg: 113.4 (8th vs. Portland)

Matchup notes:

1. Jusuf Nurkic played in all four games. Rodney Hood was only with Portland for the final two meetings and Enes Kanter was only there for the fourth meeting, which Evan Turner missed.

2. Dennis Schroder missed the third meeting for Oklahoma City.

3. The Thunder were the only team with four wins over the Blazers and had the West's best point differential per 100 possessions (plus-6.6) vs. Portland.

4. Three of the four games (all except the Feb. 11 meeting) were within five points in the last five minutes. Paul George shot 0-for-6 on clutch shots, but his teammates shot 9-for-15. The Blazers, meanwhile, shot 1-for-9 on clutch threes.

5. George averaged 38.0 points over the four games, the most any player averaged against Portland this season. He shot almost as well from 3-point range (17-for-37) as he did in the restricted area (15-for-29). The 47 points George had on Feb. 11 were the most scored in a game against the Blazers.

6. Russell Westbrook had the seventh best scoring average vs. Portland (29.5 per game) and triple-doubles in two of the four meetings.

7. Damian Lillard scored 51 points in the March 7 (overtime) meeting. That was the second most scored against the Thunder this season.

8. Westbrook, a 32-percent shooter from mid-range over the full season, shot 14-for-33 (42 percent) from mid-range against Portland. C.J. McCollum, a 50-percent shooter from mid-range over the full season, shot 3-for-17 (18 percent) from mid-range against Oklahoma City.

9. McCollum shot 13-for-36 (36 percent) from 3-point range over the four games. All other Blazers shot 26-for-101 (26 percent).

10. The Thunder were a plus-57 in 161 minutes with George on the floor. The Blazers were a plus-29 in 36 minutes with George on the bench.

11. Westbrook was the primary defender on Lillard, while Terrance Ferguson was the primary defender on McCollum. The Blazers generally stuck with the same matchups on the other end of the floor.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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