The Portland Trailblazers will visit Oklahoma City today to take on the Thunder. There are many story lines to choose from here, but none more enticing than a guy with rookie of the year potential, Damian Lillard, and how he will fare against the defending Western Conference champs.
After taking down the Lakers in his first game in the NBA, the road doesn't get much easier
Lillard showed some glimpes of how good he can really be in front of an energized Portland crowd on Wednesday as he slashed through the lane and attacked the basket as though Dwight Howard was not lurking in the paint.
It's clear this young fella has no fear.
Lillard has the opportunity to help put the Blazers back on the map as far as NBA title contenders along with some seasoned guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicholas Batum, Wes Matthews, and J.J. Hickson. The talent is there, but it's yet to be seen how much a threat this team can really be in a deep Western Conference.
That being said, if there's any two teams you tend to measure yourself against in the West it's got to be the Lakers and Thunder.
Lillard is now presented with the challenge of going in and getting a win in front of arguably the most ruckus crowd in the NBA. Surely he's never seen a place quite as rowdy as Chesapeake Arena.
Nevertheless, it's clear that OKC has some of its own kinks to work out. With their new roster out there for the first time they lost a heartbreaker to the San Antonio Spurs after a game-winning jump shot from Tony Parker.
This is nothing to hang your head about, the pendulum could have swung anyway here and there were a lot of positives the Thunder can take out of this one.
Kevin Martin was impressive in his debut tallying 15 points and 5 assists. He was nowhere near a defenseive liability, he set up his teammates, and he didn't try and do too much. As a matter of fact, the Thunder might need him to be more aggresive when he's in with that second unit.
It's clear the Trailblazers and Thunder are two teams in very different places.
After reaching the finals the Thunder hope to make it there once again, yet escape with a different outcome. Despite the young age of the team, they are very experienced.
The Blazers are putting a lot of trust in Lillard, but so far it's looking warranted. Let's hope this breaks the NBA draft curse on Portland once and for all.
Be sure to tune in at 8:00 P.M. (ET) and watch some of the NBA's best young talent go head-to-head. You won't want to miss this match up between Lillard and Westbrook.