GameThread at 9:30, be there!
Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (16-3) at Los Angeles Clippers (11-6)
Time: 9:30 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: NBA Television, Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network Prime Ticket
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KFWB News Talk 980
Enemy Blog(s): Clips Nation
If one of your homies comes up to you and says, "Hay, why are the Clippers good this year?", slap him in the face and say, "CEEEEEEE PEEEEEEEEE THREEEEEEEE FOR THREEEEEEEEEE". Even though CP3 is technically lobbing it, I think that's an accurate description of the Clippers' season. Any bonehead can figure out why they're good. They have the league's next dominant big man coming off of an amazing rookie season, they just snatched arguably the league's best point guard from the Hornets, and they have some other dudes who can score.
But the Clippers aren't a two man show. In fact, aside from Paul and Griffin, there are three players averaging 14.7 points or more. Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams, and Caron Butler have provided the meat and potatoes of the Clippers' points, while Chris Paul and Blake Griffin consistently serve up the ice cream. DeAndre Jordan serves to be an excellent defensive post partner for Griffin, and Randy Foye provides occasional sparks of scoring off of the bench. But by all accounts, the roster is only 7 men deep. The rest of the bench isn't very strong at all, occupied by a bunch of no-names and has-been role players.
Despite the star power of the Clippers' 7 man lineup, it has some problems of its own as well. They lack any semblance of a backup big man, often playing small or digging deep onto the bench. This can lead to some good scoring nights from bigger small forwards (ahem). They also lack any inside scoring aside from Blake Griffin, meaning a bad shooting night can really kill them.
Don't get me wrong, the Clippers are good, and will be a force in this year's playoffs. But the team isn't quite up to the caliber that it can be. They can get outscored, and their lineup isn't the most perfect harmony in the world. Thus, if the Thunder want to win this game, they'll have to take advantage of the matchup problems that the Clippers have, like going with Durant when there's three guards on the floor, or looking to Ibaka when the Clips are playing small at Power Forward. Westbrook will have to watch out for turnovers as well, with Chris Paul averaging 2.5 steals a game.
All in all, it can be a win, and should be a win. But with the Clippers dropping bombs, you just never know.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 109, Los Angeles Clippers 108