All eyes will be on the standings following tonight’s pre-All-Star finale against Portland, as the Thunder tries to maintain and perhaps make up ground in the Western Conference playoff race.
But entering tonight’s game, there is a more important record in play for Oklahoma City that is growing more favorable. It’s the Thunder’s record against banged-up ball clubs. Oklahoma City is 8-4 this season against teams playing without its best player or a key contributor. The Thunder will face a Blazers team tonight without All-Star guard Brandon Roy, who is saddled with a strained right hamstring. Portland is also without big men Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla because of knee injuries that cost both the rest of the season. How the Thunder continues to capitalize on opponent’s misfortune could go a long way in determining whether Oklahoma City crashes the playoff party. The Thunder lost an 83-74 decision to a healthy Blazers bunch inside the Ford Center on Nov. 1, when Portland peeled off seven wins in eight games. But Portland has now lost six of its past 10 and is just 7-6 at home over the past five weeks. With Roy out, Oklahoma City can move 1 1/2 games in front of the Blazers, who are currently one spot behind the seventh-seeded Thunder.