Okla. City Thunder (36-24, 17-13 road) at L.A. Clippers (25-36, 18-13 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.4 (17th), Clippers – 103.9 (25th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.2 (4th), Clippers – 108.9 (19th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.9 (14th), Clippers – 92.3 (18th)
View from the enemy: ClipperBlog
Remember what happened in Denver Wednesday night? I do. And I don’t think the team hasn’t forgotten either. If there’s one thing to motivate a young, hungry team, it’s getting your butt handed to you. And if there’s one thing to help you forget about it, often times it’s a trip to L.A. to play the other team that resides in Staples.
HOWEVAH, the Thunder really hasn’t always played well against the Clippers, for whatever reason (they’re 1-1 this year). The Clippers aren’t a strong squad, but talent is there. They’re capable of beating anyone on a given night, but they’re also capable of completely mailing one in too. I know I’m hoping for the latter. Because then we get a game like the season finale where it’s 48 minutes of different dunks, oops and acrobatic layups. Which is always fun.
Los Angeles coming in: The Clips have lost three of four, but did beat Utah a few nights ago in Staples. They are pretty good at home (18-13) and are 4-6 in their last 10.
The Clips’ starting five is a pretty strong unit. Eric Gordon can score. Chris Kaman has a skilled offensive game and can often be unstoppable on the block. Drew Gooden can do the dirty work. Rasual Butler can shoot (sometimes). And when he wants to, Baron Davis is one of the best point guards in the league.
But the Clippers bench lets them down, specifically inside. Really, the only big man they have off the pine is Deandre Jordan and while he’s a nice body, he’s incredibly raw and really can’t provide the production needed. Travis Outlaw can score, but he can also become a black hole shot missing machine when he’s off. The team actually might be better if Steve Blake started, especially when Davis is off.
The Clippers have absolutely no one to check Kevin Durant and really, no one to aptly guard Russell Westbrook. Jeff Green will need to play big inside and the Thunder bench needs to produce. You’ve got to like Thabo matching up with Gordon. Those jumpshooting, undersized two-guards just don’t often fare well against him. If all those things go to plan, OKC should walk away an easy winner.
The Thunder absolutely has to get back on track in L.A. tonight. There is a chance to string together a few wins, starting tonight. But bad losses like this are what ultimately cost you a seed, or in some cases, a spot in the playoffs. Come out unfocused or still shellshocked from Wednesday’s beating and you’ll drop one you shouldn’t.
Tip at 9:30 CST. Go Restore The Order.