The Blazers vs Thunder Series Is What Makes The NBA Playoffs Great

Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The Blazers vs Thunder is what makes the NBA Great

Every year in the first round we see series' that are so one-sided and uneventful. We're seeing it this year between the Magic vs Raptors and Bucks vs Pistons. Although the talent level between the Eastern conference and western conference is different, I think we will see sides flip flop very soon. That's another argument though.

The Western conference has featured many great playoff series. The Clippers are playing their best basketball against Golden State Warriors even though it's not enough to claim the series. But, that's what happens with great teams who do not have a star player. Great teams get to the playoffs but do not go any further because they do not have a next-level player who can command an offense and keep a defense off balance. The Magic and Clippers both lack in this category. Their coaching is great, but the players are not in that upper tier of talent. That is certainly not the case in the first round of the NBA Playoffs between the Portland Trailblazers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

This matchup is star-powered. Damian Lillard. Paul George. Russell Westbrook. CJ McCollum. 2 stars on each team competing to win the series. This matchup is what makes the NBA Playoffs great.

These teams have been going at it all year, fueling a rivalry we could see for possibly another decade depending on what happens from a personnel standpoint. Back in January, we saw Russell Westbrook talk some stuff to Damian Lillard. Since January 22nd, Lillard has averaged 35 PPG against the Thunder. The intensity is up and Lillard does not shy away from the moment.

We are seeing two guards who are some of the most passionate players in the NBA going head to head and it has been an absolute show. Al-Farouq Aminu is known for playing great defense on opposing forwards, we're seeing him make Paul George look like a normal player in this series. Let's not forget, before the All-Star break Paul George was an MVP Candidate, having the ability to take over games. We saw it when he dropped 27 points in the 4th quarter of a come back win against the Brooklyn Nets. In order to come back from this 3-1 deficit, George must be aggressive going to the basket and not settle for many jump shots. He's starting to take more off balance, contested 3's, which he can make, but is not the best shot in gameplay.

George dunking the ball on a fast break to end Game 3 was a statement. There is clearly bad blood between these two teams and that is what makes the NBA Playoffs so great. We have gotten to an age where society is becoming softer. If a player flips a bat after a home run people have an outrage and act like it is the end of the world. This feud between divisional opponents in the playoffs is what makes the Playoffs must-watch TV. 

Let's not forget to mention, if the Thunder lose this series this is would be the 3rd year in a row they lose in the first round of the playoffs. Westbrook has struggled all year. Even if he is averaging a triple-double annually, not being able to score the basketball in multiple facets hurts a players ability to lead their team to victory. Steph Curry could probably go out on any given night and average 10 assists and 10 rebounds, but he knows that in order to win games, he must shoot the ball and make his shots at a high percentage.

The Thunder must change something if this series goes down the drain. I know their shooting guard position is in a tough area, getting most of their production from Terrance Ferguson. OKC needs to start putting Dennis Schroder on the court to be successful. He is a huge key in this series to me. Schroder has playoff experience from his time with the Atlanta Hawks. He has also been able to give the Thunder a spark off of the bench. Schroder being in a must-start position confirms one thing from Oklahoma City's point of view: a stud shooting guard must be obtained in the draft or through free agency. Tyler Herro anyone?

With the Thunder down 3-1 against the Blazers and the next game being in Portland, it will be a real opportunity for OKC to show their resilience as a team. When someone's back is against the wall, how they bounce back is what shows their true colors. Westbrook and George will not go down without a fight and this will most likely be the best game in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

By Steve Ross