Our event of the day is game 5 in the NBA playoff series between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Moda Center. After a scintillating performance on the road last time out, Portland are taking a 3-1 lead into this potentially decisive match and now look firm favourites to eliminate the Thunder. What makes the task even more daunting for Oklahoma City is the fact that both matches at the Moda Center thus far have resulted in a Portland win and they will have to amend that record if they are to have any chance of progressing to the second round. After finishing third in the Western Conference behind the Warriors and Nuggets, Portland were many people’s pick to cultivate a run to the Western Conference finals this term and they certainly haven’t disappointed so far. Much of the Trail Blazers’ success has been down to the immense performances of seven-year pro Damian Lillard who hasn’t shied away from the potentially daunting task of going head to head with Russell Westbrook. Lillard leads the league in scoring since the playoffs began, averaging 30.3 points per game, adding 2.7 steals to boot, emphasising his importance at both ends of the floor.
After two consecutive first round eliminations, the Portland faithful will be relieved to see their team fulfilling their potential, but know the job will only be done once they see the Larry O’Brien trophy back in the Moda Center’s trophy cabinet one day to sit beside their 1977 Championship. OKC have been equally woeful in the postseason in recent years after suffering two first round eliminations in the last two campaigns. In fact, they haven’t reached the NBA Finals since 2012, on which occasion they lost out to the Miami Heat, and haven’t lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy since 1979, an incredible stat considering the immense talent Oklahoma always seems to boast within their roster. Much was said about the on-court rivalry between Lillard and Westbrook going into this series, but it has been the former who has come out on top thus far. In the home loss last time out, Westbrook endured one of his worst playoff performances in an OKC jersey, and mustered just 14 points as his side fell to a devastating loss. Though they swept the Trail Blazers in the regular season, the Thunder now have a mountain to climb if they are to extend their stay in the playoffs this term. We should be set for a thrilling game of basketball.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the Premier League where Tottenham take on Brighton and Hove Albion at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. After a crop of favourable results at the weekend after their loss to Manchester City, Tottenham’s top four fate remains firmly in their hands and Mauricio Pochettino will be desperate to secure all three points tonight as the run-in hots up. Elsewhere, there are two pivotal clashes in the NHL playoffs as the Boston Bruins host the Toronto Maple Leafs whilst the San Jose Sharks will contend with the Vegas Golden Knights in two winner takes all clashes. With both series tied at 3-3, it is all to play for tonight as the four sides look to secure safe progression to the next round. There is plenty more sporting action to look out for today starting in the Indian Premier League where league leaders Chennai Super Kings are in action against Sunrisers Hyderabad at MA Chidambaram Stadium. The MLB season also continues today as the Chicago Cubs host the LA Dodgers whilst the Boston Red Sox do battle with the Detroit Tigers. The race for the title in Holland’s Eredivisie is heating up nicely as PSV and Ajax both sit on 77 points and the latter will look to get their noses in front as they take on Vitesse at the Amsterdam ArenA tonight. Finally, the World Snooker Championship continues today at the Crucible with Stuart Bingham’s clash with Graeme Dott headlining the action.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Oklahoma City Thunder; Portland Trail Blazers
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