Clippers (8-4, 3-3 road) vs. Thunder (7-3, 4-0 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.3 (9th), Clippers– 111.5 (2nd)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.1 (11th), Clippers – 107.8 (28th)
Pace: Thunder – 97.0 (8th), Clippers – 97.5 (6th)
Skirting by the Nuggets was critical because that would’ve been a pretty horrific start to this homestand where really good teams are coming in. But the Thunder are going to be judged — at least early on — by how they perform against teams like the Clippers, Warriors and Spurs. There are good excuses built in for the Thunder’s three failures, but there shouldn’t be anything like that tonight. It’s at home against a Clipper team coming off a game the night before. All signs should point to a Thunder victory, unless there really are reasons for worry.
But then again, the Clippers are good. And as they showed in the first meeting, there are some legit matchup issues the Thunder are going to have to overcome. All the motion, all the cutting, all the pick-and-roll — it’s a lot to deal with defensively, and the Thunder have been pretty inconsistent on that end.
I don’t believe in statements in November, but a loss at home probably will bring out some light panic and worry. Mainly because everyone can see things for what they are right now: The Thunder need to beat a good team.
Clippers coming in: The Clippers played in Minnesota last night, winning a tight one against the Wolves
Three Big Things
1. Crunchtime rotation. How will Scott Brooks approach winning time against the Clippers? In the first meeting, he didn’t have Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, so he went with a lot of Nick Collison at the 5. Maybe the best late-game lineup is Ibaka at center and Durant at the 4, which would force Doc Rivers to either matchup, or gamble with Blake Griffin on KD. Lineups appear to be an area Brooks can dictate matchups some.
2. Paint productivity. The Clippers are really good all over offensively, but they’re really good when scoring a bunch of points at the rim. In the first meeting, Griffin was setting up DeAndre Jordan for dunks, Paul was setting up Griffin for dunks and everyone else seemed to have their way at the rim. A lot of that had to do with the Thunder missing their rim protector, but OKC has defend inside-out tonight.
3. Don’t, get, eliminated. Or ejected. That’s a pretty important thing in this game.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Hoops.