Tonight's X-factor in Oklahoma City won't be ON the court

Tonight's X-factor in Oklahoma City won't be ON the court

OKLAHOMA CITY – With the Oklahoma City Thunder down 2-0 to the Portland Trail Blazers in the best of seven series, the Thunder know adjustments need to be made and shots need to go down.

Coming off Game 2, Russell Westbrook went 5-of-20 from the floor and also committed 6 turnovers, while Damian Lillard finished with 29 points on 10-of-21 shooting including 4-of-8 from three. Portland’s backcourt outscored OKC’s 62-21.

After the Thunder wrapped up Friday morning’s shootaround, their shooting struggles were addressed, as well as what the Thunder feel may just make a big difference in Game 3.

OKC’s shooting woes

In Game 2, OKC shooting woes were front and center. The Thunder shot just 40.7 percent from the field as a team and 17.9 percent (5-of-28) from 3-point range and shooting 15.2 from three in Game 1.

During the regular season, Thunder starting power forward Jerami Grant averaged 11 points vs. the Blazers. In the first two playoffs games, he has scored 13 points combined on 3-of-15 shooting. 

Grant discussed how he and his teammates have been talking to each other about how they can’t shy away from taking shots because the tide will eventually turn.

“Just missing shots,” Grant said. “We’re fine though. We workout enough we know how to shoot the basketball. We know what we gotta do. We’ll be fine tonight.”

The X-Factor: Home Court 

After getting blown out in Game 2, the Thunder are now favored by 7.5 in Game 3. What's changed? Simply put: home court.

OKC finished the season with a 27-14 home record. Two of those home wins were big time performances against the Blazers.

“Um, we’ll see” was Westbrook’s simple response to “how important will homecourt advantage tonight?”

Westbrook did have a thoughtful answer though when it came to describing the Thunder fan base.

“Especially during this time of year they’re very, very excited, loud, intense throughout the whole game so it’s kinda good to always get in front of them. Westbrook said.

It sounds like having the home crowd behind them it what just might make the difference in Game 3.

“It’s huge, it’s huge. Playing at home, especially with the fans that we have it’s an extra man on the court with us. We’re definitely excited for this,” Grant said.

The Trail Blazers also understand what it means to play in front of your homecourt. After Portland’s shootaround, Lillard talked about the key to getting a win on the road.

“A lot of times you get on the road and it’s a little bit harder to do some of things you do at home when you get on the road because you’ve got… the crowd... it’s a standing ovation, they’re trying to get you going. Every shot that you make the crowd is going wild, making you feel good about everything little thing that you do… Those are the feel good things that you get from being a home team,” Lillard said.

“Then when you go on the road. It’s the exact opposite. Every time they make a shot it’s like the end of the world… So, it’s us being able to keep our focus and sustain what our mentality has been regardless of home or on the road,” Lillard added.

Game 3 between the Blazers and Thunder will tip-off at 6:30 pacific time on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.

Trail Blazers will be facing a tough task to steal that eighth seed from Memphis

Trail Blazers will be facing a tough task to steal that eighth seed from Memphis

It looks as if it’s going to be a difficult road for the Trail Blazers -- or any other team -- to steal that eighth playoff spot from the Memphis Grizzlies.

Multiple reports (the Athletic was first) indicate that six teams -- Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, Phoenix and Washington -- not currently situated in the NBA’s 16-team playoff bracket will report to Orlando in addition to the playoff teams.

Teams will participate in an eight-game regular season and if that ends with the ninth seed closer than four games behind the eighth seed, a playoff will be held.

The Blazers, Kings and Pelicans all currently sit three and a half games behind No. 8 Memphis.

It’s being reported that the playoff between 8 and 9 would be double elimination for the higher seed and single elimination for the lower seed -- which seems to be a more complicated way of saying that the ninth seed must defeat the eighth seed twice in a row to advance.

It’s difficult to imagine any of those teams out of the playoff race now can make up three and a half games in just an eight-game schedule, meaning Memphis is still likely to be eighth.

But one of these teams is going to have to get hot to claim the ninth position and then stay hot, with no margin for error, by beating the No, 8 seed in consecutive games.

A tough task, all in all.

Trail Blazers projected to play for playoff spot if restart plan approved

Trail Blazers projected to play for playoff spot if restart plan approved

If the NBA approves a plan to restart the season with 22 teams at Orlando’s Disney World, the Portland Trail Blazers will be in the mix. 

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBA is planning to propose a 22-team return to the 2019 season on Thursday in a Board of Governors Meeting. The current format would bring in 16 teams currently in playoff spots, six additional teams, as well as a play-in tournament for the eighth seed. 

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, each of the 22 teams will play approximately eight regular season games in Orlando.

When the league halted play, there were five Western Conference teams vying for the eighth seed including Portland, New Orleans, San Antonio, Sacramento, and Phoenix. There is one team, Washington, within six games of Orlando for the No. 8 spot in the East.

Charania reported that if the ninth seed is four or more games back, the eighth seed earns the spot. However, if the ninth seed is 4 or fewer games behind, there will be a play-in with a single elimination for the ninth seed or double elimination for the eighth seed. Portland was 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies for the eighth seed before the season was suspended on March 1.

[RELATED: Jaynes: Sources say NBA likely to go with 22 teams -- what will that look like?]

Commissioner Adam Silver recently laid out four options to resume play. A return with 16 teams directly to playoffs, 20 teams with group/stage play, 22 teams with games to determine seeding, play-in tournament for the final seed and a 30-game format with a 72-game regular season with play-in tournament. 

On Monday, NBCSNW's Dwight Jaynes reported the 22-team format was the plan gaining the most traction, but the format was yet to be determined.  

Charania confirmed that the 16-team and 30-team proposals recently lost traction. 

“The 16-team format would not provide teams currently out of the playoffs the opportunity to make a postseason bid, nor accomplish the financial upside of the other formats," Charania said. "The 30-team model, meanwhile, brings several bottom-feeding teams that do not belong in the bubble environment given the NBA’s medical safety and health priority.”

Some additional tidbits from Charania’s report include the draft lottery and combine taking place in August. As ESPN reported, the proposed timeline for the last possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals is October 12. 

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

REPORT: NBA Governors to vote on return Thursday, formal dates set

REPORT: NBA Governors to vote on return Thursday, formal dates set

As the NBA inches closer to a return to play, there are so many questions still unanswered.

  • When will the season start?
  • Will there be a play-in style tournament to determine the playoffs?
  • Will the NBA go straight to the playoffs?
  • Will they return to play at a single site or two single sites?
  • What will the protocols be?
  • When will the season end?
  • When will next season begin?

This Thursday could be the day we get all or most of those questions answered.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA Board of Governors will meet Thursday to vote on the finalized plan for return. The NBA’s proposed timeline as a last possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals would be October 12, according to the report.

It was back on Mar. 11 when Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and then later that night the news quickly broke that the NBA was suspending the 2019-20 season.

During last Friday’s conference call with the NBA Board of Governors, Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly laid out four options to what the NBA could look like once play resumes:

  • 16 teams: Directly to playoffs
  • 20: Group/stage play
  • 22: Games to determine seeding, play-in tournament for final seed(s)
  • 30: 72-game regular season, with play-in tourney

From the sounds of it, it seems the league is leaning more towards the format of 22 teams returning in a play-in type tournament.

We should know a lot more on Thursday. 

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

Carmelo Anthony and rapper T.I. call for unified, collective action, justice

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Carmelo Anthony and rapper T.I. call for unified, collective action, justice

Trail Blazers veteran and future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony shared a glass of wine with rapper Tip Harris AKA T.I. on Melo's weekly YouTube live show, 'What’s in your Glass'.

This week, though, was not about wine. 

Instead, it was a real conversation between Melo and T.I. about the current state of the nation.

“There’s things that need to be talked about, things that need to be discussed,” Anthony said. “We’re going to focus more on where we’re at as a country. It’s a matter of generational racism that got us to a point where we’re at right now.”

The Trail Blazers forward started off the show with a virtual toast and asked his special guest how he was doing.

T.I. took a moment before answering.

I’m torn up just like everyone else, emotional, angry, upset. I’m sick and tired of it, fed up. As long as I’ve been living, I’ve been hearing from people that we don’t stick together. 

These past few days, we’ve been sticking together. One thing I want to focus on are the things that bring us together vs. the things that tear us apart. We may have a different idea of how to get there, but we’re all on the same journey and we’re all fighting for the same cause. 

We’re all fed up, we all know something must be done, we’re all on the same side fighting the same enemy. So, I say we start there and then build and grow.  -- TI on What’s In Your Glass

Melo opened up about his difficult conversations with his 13-year-old son, Kiyan.

As Melo asked for T.I.’s advice on what he's saying to his young adult children, Melo added, “I’m having a hard time sitting down with my son.” Anthony also said that his son has “witnessed maybe 6 or 7 police killings of a black man.”

T.I. has made it clear to his children that he wants them to know, "This is not a problem that they brought about, that they caused. This was like that before they got here.”

The Atlanta, Georgia native continued to share how he sits down and talks with his kids.

We just have to find the best way to deal with it and remain safe, healthy and free in the process and I think the best way to do that is remove emotion. It’s difficult, especially for young people. [My advice] is hit or miss because there are no right answers. There’s nothing that they can do that will guarantee that they will not be killed. There’s nothing I can tell them, for sure, without fail, if you do it like this, you’ll stay alive. I don’t have that answer. The main message I have for youth is that we support you. We may not always understand you, we are all on the same side. It’s going to take all of what you’ve got and a little bit of what we’ve got to defeat this beast that we have ahead of us.

Anthony shared how he feels things are different right now and reiterated that it’s up to him, T.I., and other influencers to make sure they continue to work towards change.

“We’re dealing with a new, different breed of protestors who don’t know consequence, who don’t give a damn about consequence, who’s ready to go by any means necessary,” Carmelo said. “Even though everyone’s out there doing what we're doing, we're protesting, we standing up for what we believe in, we standing up for what’s right, we’re standing up against injustices, I don’t think people understand why people are protesting... I don't think they understand that this country was built on protests at the end of the day. We’ve protested to have this country to be what it is today... The people that are in power right now are abusing that... I don’t like tearing up our s***. I don’t like tearing up our communities, but there comes a time where we can’t tell people to stop at this very moment... We’ve got to be careful in what we say because we are the influencers in our community, which is the black community.”

What’s going on right now is different from past movements and this is how T.I. and Melo know:

“I’ve never seen a police station burn,” T.I. said, to which Anthony replied, “That’s when I knew s*** was real.”

What about T.I's. message? 

That’s what Melo wanted to know and wanted his friend to share with the world as Anthony mentioned he is still trying to figure out his message.

America has incredible debt to pay and the laws of reciprocity are in order. But, in order for the movement to make the most significant amount of impact, you’ve got to have an incredible amount of purpose and direction... I think if you lead with purpose and direction, I think you make more impact that way. -- T.I.

Melo continued to share his thoughts on what he can do, saying “it’s on us, as leaders to lead because we can’t rely on the leaders in place right now.”

Carmelo wants to make sure his voice and the voices of other black lives are being heard now and will continue to be heard.

“I think the smartest thing to do... Now that we’ve got their attention, we’ve got to start plotting because they want to shut s*** down. They’re going to do everything in their power to shut s*** down, shut us up. How do we come out of this as a black community?”

T.I. echoed that sentiment, saying people need to also show up at the polls and vote.

I hope that we can depend on justice…

We have all the power we need. We can build or destroy any business, any brand, any corporation. All we have to do is show united support or united disgust to any corporation or person and the power comes from our collective effort... It’s going to take all of what you’ve got to defeat this beast that we have ahead of us. It’s a dastardly machine with with clandestine intentions and I don’t think that my way alone is going to work and I don’t think your way alone is going to work. But together, collectively, we can work together to play each card when it’s time to with the appropriate amount of force, effort, energy and purpose. -- T.I.

Today, on June 2nd, Black Out Tuesday, we can all learn from Carmelo Anthony and T.I.’s discussion on this day of collective disconnect from work as we come together in support of the Black community.

Check out the entire episode of What’s in Your Glass right here.

Trail Blazers, Seahawks, Ducks, Beavers unite for Blackout Tuesday

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Black Lives Matter

Trail Blazers, Seahawks, Ducks, Beavers unite for Blackout Tuesday

Today, June 2nd, is Black Out Tuesday, a day of collective disconnect from work meant to help people reflect and come together in support of the Black community. It is a day promoted by activists to observe, mourn and bring about policy change.

The campaign is aimed at protesting police violence and racism as well as honoring George Floyd, whose death at the hands of police has sparked universal outcry and demonstrations in US cities and around the world.

Tuesday, Northwest sports teams and its athletes, both past and present stand against social injustice, racism and police brutality. 

Below is a running list of sports organizations, players and coaches who have shared the powerful message:

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#blackouttuesday Living in Europe with my wife and daughter, walking around, I feel like we live in a completely different world than North America right now. We walk outside everyday and get to enjoy our family time without any worries. However, my wife and I feel a small piece of guilt. Not for our happiness, but because we think “why do we get to live this way, while so many are living in fear right now? What can we do to help?” We discuss this issue everyday with each other and believe that using our social media platforms, it is a tool to spread awareness. This is the best way we can help right now, since we can’t protest or march because of where we live. I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD TO BE. We will get through this. We just have to stay unified, stay strong, and put our faith into God. He will always find the way for His people! ✊🏾🙏🏾

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These last few days have not been the best, but we’ll get through. I look at the Instagram posts, Twitter posts, the comments on these places, the news, and it is obvious that this country is broken. People are fed up. Black people have broken the chains off of their people through waves of generations. This is our wave. This is the chain that must be broken in order to give a better future for the next generation. Let’s continue to stand together a month from now, a year from now, and so on and so forth. There’s a systemic war going on people, and we have to be smart about our next move once we let some of this steam out. Love all of y’all. Stay safe. And yes I’m bi-racial, but shittt stay black my brothers. 👊🏽 #blackouttuesday

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Believe it ..#Blacklivesmatter #blackouttuesday

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Those who participate in this social media campaign are asked to use the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday and reserve all BLM hashtags to activists and organizers.