This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.
Time: 9:30 PM Central Daylight Time
Place: The Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KSPN 710 ESPN
Previous Meeting(s): None.
The Los Angeles Clippers are 0-4, and they may very well end up winless in the first two or even three weeks of the season. "But!", you say, "The Clippers have Blake Griffin!" Well, that's true.... "And Chris Kaman! And Eric Gordon!" Okay, Mr. Smart Alack, who else do they have?
Exactly. This team is lacking a PG, a SF, and any kind of consistent bench play. Baron Davis (a former All-Star and We Believe Warrior) looked to be their PG solution on paper, but age has hit him hard, and his offense isn't near the level it once was. Not to mention the fact that he's not the type of PG who will feed it to the bigs down low all day. Shaun Livingston was their answer a few years ago, but we all know what happened there. Next in the pipeline would appear to be Eric Bledsoe, but his performance so far has been lacking at best. His assist to turnover ratio is 1, and he's shot 39%. Now, it's obviously unfair to judge Bledsoe's entire career on just four (really two) games of play, but it doesn't look like he'll be the Clippers' answer at PG any time soon.
Below: The Clippers' Problems, How the Game Will Go, Prediction!
Their SF is currently Ryan Gomes, a Timberwolves castoff that put in some okay numbers while playing on a bad team, but isn't close to the quality starter that you need for a playoff team. Foye is also there, but he turns over the ball a lot, and is really only a shade above Gomes. The bench consists of a patchwork of what the Clippers could find at the bottom of the FA barrel and their own terrible re-signings. The only potentially worthwhile player would be Aminu (the #8 pick this year), but the jury is still out on him.
Thus, the problem with this team isn't lack of star power, or even bad play from their stars. It's a complete and utter lack of role players. This usually leads to the Clippers keeping up with their opponent for two quarters, and then slowly fizzling out of the game in the second half.
As a result, on the Thunder's side of things, it will be the role player's responsibility to step up and close out the game for us. Ibaka and Krstic will be busy with Kaman and Griffin, so the extra offense will have to come from Harden, Sefolosha, or Cook. The Clippers' style is easy to control, but they're hard to penetrate on the inside, so expect lots of backdoor cuts, mid-range jumpers, and trips to the line when the going gets tough.
In all honesty, this game should be over by the end of the third. Without Foye and Davis, the starters will get heavy minutes, and we might even see peeps of time from guys that you can't believe are still in the NBA, like Brian Cook, Craig Smith, and even former OU player Willie Warren. And that doesn't bode well for the top-heavy Clippers.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 112, Los Angeles (Clippers) 91
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'll be here to drop my thoughts as well, and I'll be back to write a recap later tonight. Go Thunder!