This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.
Time: 9:30 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: KSBI-TV 52, Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)
Backstory: More than anything else, the Los Angeles Clippers are known as the unluckiest team in the NBA. That moniker continues into this season, as they've had recent injuries to Black Griffin and Eric Gordon, all leading to an underwhelming start of 3-5. I mean, if I told you a team had a lineup of Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, Blake Griffin, Craig Smith, Al Thornton, Rasual Butler, Eric Gordon, Ricky Davis, Baron Davis, and Sebastian Telfair along with a Championship Coach in Mike Dunleavy Sr. and the 2nd largest market in the US, you'd think I was talking about a championship winning Lakers team, right? Wrong. I'm talking about just another sub-.500 Clippers team.
Despite the talent-laden roster, this is a very winnable game. The Clippers have only won against the Timberwolves, Warriors, and Grizzlies, who are possibly the 3 worst teams in the West. They've lost to the Lakers, Suns, Jazz, Mavericks, and Hornets. This game will determine exactly where we will be on the map for this season. Will we be lurking around the 12th or 11th seed, waiting for the lottery and mired in mediocrity, or will we be around the 10th-8th seed, fiercely competing for a playoff spot? Lets hope it's the latter.
Below: Matchups, Prediction
Center: Chris Kaman vs. Nenad Krstic
Chris Kaman is a better inside banger, and will probably get some crucial points against Krstic inside. Hopefully Krstic can pay him back with his mid-range jumper, but all of that will depend on if he's feeling hot or cold tonight. Still, I'd tend to think that Chris Kaman will have the better day.
Power Forward: Marcus Camby vs. Jeff Green
A mismatch if I ever saw one. Camby is a good ball handler for his size, but if Green can get hot from the perimeter, then it will be all over. If the Clippers can slow our game down I'd give the win to Camby, but otherwise, I think Green gets the win.
Small Forward: Al Thornton vs. Kevin Durant
Al Thornton is and will be a solid player, but he's no Kevin Durant. Thornton has been cold so far this season, so lets hope Durant can take advantage of that and exploit him.
Shooting Guard: Ricky Davis vs. Thabo Sefolosha
Ricky Davis is a good name, but he's not much more than a streaky shooter. He might drop more points than Sefolosha, but Sefolosha will beat him in every other area of the stat sheet.
Point Guard: Baron Davis vs. Russell Westbrook
Ah, the young versus the old. I used to watch Baron Davis on the Warrior teams of old, and it was good times. But now, he's trapped on one of the unluckiest organizations in history, and his scoring production has seen a serious hit. He'll beat Westbrook in assists, but it will be interesting to see who gets more rebounds and who can score more points, especially after Westbrook's cold performance last night.
Battle of the Benches
The Clippers have a deeper and more talented bench than we do for sure, but we have a more cohesive unit. Still, I think talent wins in this case.
Coaching and Intangibles
The Clippers have played 4 games in 6 days, and the Thunder are on the second game of a back-to-back, so both teams will be tired. The Clippers are at home, but they've had two crucial injuries, so I'd say this category is about even for both of us, unless you're counting the style points brought on by the suit of Mike Dunleavy Sr. In that case, the Clippers win.
The Clippers are more talented, but they're older and bigger, so if the Thunder can exploit bad matchups, then they'll have a serious advantage. Remember when I said that if the Thunder lost to the Kings, it wouldn't matter that much? Well, if the Thunder lose here, it will put us 2 games in the hole, and it will matter.
Prediction: Thunder 97, Clippers 95
I feel like a homer here, but somehow I think that we can pull this one out against the Clippers, since their main scorer in Eric Gordon is out, and they have a lack of athleticism on their front line.
How do you think the game will go? Vote in the Poll!
And, again, feel free to drop any comments you might have during, before, or after the game below. I might be here during the game to drop my thoughts as well. Go Thunder!