OKC Thunder (2-1, 1-0 road) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (0-4, 0-3 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.5 (16th), Clippers – 93.7 (30th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 108.6 (23rd), Clippers – 107.9 (21st)
Pace: Thunder – 97.9 (7th), Clippers – 93.3 (20th)
View from the enemy: ClipperBlog
Hey, it’s Blake Griffin! Fun! But he’s going to kill Jeff Green! Not fun.
The best thing though for an ailing offense is probably to go an play the Clippers. Not that the Clips aren’t good (they aren’t) or that they won’t play hard (they might not), but traditionally, they aren’t a top notch defensive unit. And for Kevin Durant, this is exactly the medicine he needs: a game at Staples versus the Clips. Historically against the Clippers, Durant is averaging 31.6 points per game at Staples, including a 46-point outburst.
The fear here is that the Thunder gets another defeated team in the 0-4 Clippers. Not that the Clips have as much talent as the Jazz, but they are certainly as hungry for a win. But at the same time, the Thunder should be equally interested in winning. And potentially about making a statement. The last game out against the Jazz was lackluster and disappointing. It should be a wake-up call for this team.
The Clippers coming in: They are 0-4 and really only looked good against the Blazers on opening night. Obviously Griffin has been a bright spot, but they’ve appeared confused offensively and uninterested at times. They last played Monday at home against the Spurs which was their closest loss (nine points).
The Clippers should own Oklahoma City inside. Not just because of Blake Griffin’s matchup on Jeff Green, but because Chris Kaman historically has done really well against the Thunder’s inside group. This would be a potentially nice game to see a good dose of Serge Ibaka and Cole Aldrich defending the interior.
The Thunder catches a break (I think) with Baron Davis still likely sitting out because of a sore knee. With Randy Foye also out, the Thunder gets a look at Eric Bledsoe, the player they traded for a future first-round pick. Eric Gordon will handle a lot of the ball-handling duties, but Bledsoe is the starting point guard.
Where OKC will do its damage is with Kevin Durant (Ryan Gomes and Rasual Butler will guard him) and Russell Westbrook (a rookie will be checking him). Really, the Clippers just don’t have an answer for those two. Gordon is a nice defender and may guard Westbrook, but on the other side, Thabo should do well checking Gordon.
Plus, the Thunder bench is far and away better than the Clippers’ second unit. Against San Antonio, the Clipper bench didn’t score until there was six minutes left in the fourth. So OKC’s bench unit should make a difference, especially if James Harden can snap out of his funk.
I’d expect the Thunder to come out intense as ever, focused on the defensive end and ready to play well. With Sunday’s game against Utah, OKC raised some doubts. There are still questions to be answered, but a strong performance against one of the West’s lower level teams would go a little way towards putting some of those to bed. On the road, you just want to win, but as of now, Thunder fans kind of want to see their team actually play a good game.
Tip at 9:30 CT. Go Team Go.