Last year, Damian Lillard hit the shot that sent the OKC Thunder home in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Portland would go on to the Conference Finals, where they would eventually lose to the Warriors.
Meanwhile, the Thunder hit the reset button by trading Paul George and Russell Westbrook for young players and draft picks.
They were headed in two very different directions and nobody thought the Thunder would be in the playoff picture so soon after trading their two best stars.
But in an interesting turn of events, it’s OKC who’d secure a spot in the 2020 postseason, not the Blazers and, as this campaign continues to progress, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Blazers may be closer to a rebuild than the Thunder.
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Since Dame’s infamous shot, OKC is 40-24 with a 5th place standing in the West. Chris Paul, Dennis Schröder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and Steven Adams have a Net Rating of +29.9, making them the best five-man lineup in the league.
Things haven’t been as fortunate for Portland. Injuries and roster changes aside, they’ve struggled to stay consistent on the court. They rank 27th defensively and allow the fifth-most points in the NBA, behind the Pelicans, Timberwolves, Hawks, and Wizards.
As the Thunder sit comfortably in the West standings, Portland still has to fight for a spot in the playoffs if they even want a shot at the title.
Nobody thought it was going to be like this, especially after all the Blazers were able to accomplish last year.