PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers were well aware of the implications of Friday’s tilt with Oklahoma City, even though they aren’t talking much about it.
A win Friday clinches the season series over the Thunder and extends the Blazers’ division lead to seven games.
It’s known around the team but the Blazers are more concerned with their finish to the season than what Friday’s game might mean.
“Everybody knows about it,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “They know about the implications of what a win or a loss means in this game. I told the team this morning, it’s more about the process. Going into the San Antonio game, that was a big game, but it was more about how we’re playing.”
The Blazers got a bounce back win after two straight losses on Wednesday. Friday they face a team that’s won nine of their last 11 games.
The Blazers are taking the attitude they will worry about seeding or division implications when the games are over.
“We got 20-some games to go and the season doesn’t hinge on one game,” Stotts said. “Even with all that could possibly be at stake in one game. It’s more important that we continue to play, it’s encouraging what we did against San Antonio at both ends of the court. We need to keep it going in that direction. That’s our focus.”
The Thunder are already without last year’s MVP Kevin Durant and prior to Friday’s game, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said that Enes Kanter would miss the game with a thigh contusion.
Brooks said that he does not know how long Kanter will be out, only that he will miss Friday.
Durant is scheduled to be re-evaluated at the end of the week.
Freeland will travel
Portland Trail Blazers big man Joel Freeland has been out since Jan. 3 with a shoulder injury.
Although there has been no formal update, Stotts did say that Freeland will be on the team’s trip to California for games against Sacramento and the L.A. Clippers.
Stotts guarded the statement by saying that Freeland always travels but as Freeland has hinted the return could be “soon,” and being on the trip leaves some hope he could return in the next two games.