Suns Need a Win Against the Thunder, Trail Blazers Seek Another Victory vs. the Pelicans

On Sunday, the Oklahoma City Thunder (55-20) will travel to play the Phoenix Suns (45-31), who are battling for a playoff spot after a four absence.

Good luck going up against Kevin Durant. In Friday’s game against Houston, a 111-107 loss, he scored 28 points–his 40th straight game with a minimum of 25 points. He is tied with Michael Jordan’s 1988-89 steak, which is the third-longest one in league history; Durant is currently leading the league with his 32.1 points per game.

In his two previous games against Phoenix this season, Durant has scored a combined 67 points; he is also averaging a career-high 5.6 assists.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City, 3 1/2 games behind San Antonio for the West lead, had limited opponents to 99.1 points per game during a 7-1 run prior to Friday’s stumble. For Durant, this has been a good season to breakout as his teammate, Russell Westbrook, was again on the bench for that game. For the season, he’s only played in 41 games.

As for the Suns, Phoenix (45-31) is tied for the eighth spot in the Western Conference with the Memphis Grizzlies while the Dallas Mavericks sit a half-game above them. The Grizzlies own the tiebreaker over Phoenix as they won their first three games. On April 14, they’ll have one more matchup against one another while the Suns still have to play Dallas and San Antonio on the road.

But it’s one game at a time as Phoenix has won its last nine of 12. It will again look to Gerald Green’s 3-point scoring as he’s gone 30 of 65 (46.2 percent) in the 11 previous games. On Friday, he went 4 of 7 while Eric Bledsoe scored a season-high 30 points.

Goran Dragic has also been vital to the team’s success; he sits as the team’s leading scorer, averaging 20.4 points for the season. However, in the last three games, he’s slumped to 32.6 percent shooting. Dragic recently said of the remaining season, “Our destiny is in our own hands, because we still play Dallas and Memphis. Those two games are going to be really huge for us. Win those games and it’s going to be really close.”

For Sunday’s game, Vegas gives the win to Oklahoma City (-2.5, 212.5 o/u). Looking ahead, the Phoenix Suns are 5/6 yes/no to make the playoffs while the Thunder are 9/2 to win the 2014 NBA Championship.

In other Northwest division action, on Sunday the Portland Trail Blazers (49-28) will take on the New Orleans Pelicans (32-44).

Portland is the Western Conference’s No. 5 team and they’ll head to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Golden State is nipping at its heels, sitting 1 1/2 games behind them while Dallas is behind by three games.

After winning four straight games, the Blazers fell to Phoenix on Friday, 109-93, at home. But when they again hit their own court on Sunday, history will be on its side as they have defeated the Pelicans five straight times there by only giving up 92.8 points per game.

Damian_Lillard

Damian Lillard

For this season, Portland has won two of three games with its only loss on Dec. 30, 110-108, thanks to a last second jumper by Tyreke Evans. Damian Lillard has played well against New Orleans with his 28.3 point average and 51.8 percent shooting.

And in this final one, it could come without the Pelicans’ top scorer Anthony Davis. He has been averaging 20.9 points and 10.1 rebounds but thanks to back problems, Davis has not finished the last two games.

In Friday’s 100-96 loss against the Utah Jazz, he was done in the fourth quarter.

New Orleans coach Monty Williams said of Davis’ exit, “He wanted to play and I just said no. We’re not in the playoffs. Every game for me is a championship game, but I’ve got to be smart.”

Vegas is unsure of Sunday’s winner but gives the Trail Blazers 40/1 odds to win this year’s NBA Championship.

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