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Thunder vs. Clippers: Two Slumping Teams Slug It Out (2011-2012 Game 47 Preview)

GameThread at 7, come discuss the game!

Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (34-12) at Los Angeles Clippers 26-19)

Time: 7 PM Central Daylight Time

Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network West

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KFWB News Talk 980

Enemy Blog(s): Clips Nation

So, if you haven't heard, the Thunder have officially found themselves in a slump, going 3-4 in their last seven games. Fortunately for us, the Los Angeles Clippers also find themselves in a slump, going 3-4 over their last seven games. The loss of Chauncey Billups has hurt them in a big way, with ball movement and their bench suffering. With Foye now in the starting lineup, the Clippers already weak bench has literally nobody who can create for themselves, and nobody who is a post threat down low. The end result is the Clippers finding themselves racking up deficits in the second and third quarter which they just can't get out of. Vinny Del Negro responds to these concerns by playing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin far too long, leaving them tired in the fourth and only compounding the problem.

The Thunder's slump has been much more puzzling. Their lineup remains the same as during their run of success, in fact, they recently regained the venerable Thabo Sefolosha from injury. The leading theory right now seems to be general disinterest from the players involved. Plays are getting telegraphed seconds before they happen, threes are getting chucked as if everybody was John Starks, and emotions are running high. The slump culminated last night in a loss to the Jazz, whom the Thunder easily trumped two times earlier this year.

What happens tonight is anyone's guess. Will the Clippers be able to maintain their offense? Will the Thunder be able to defend the lane worth a damn? Will the Clippers stop flopping? Will the Thunder get bored in the third quarter and start playing Doodle Jump in their iPhone? Will it snow in August?

I don't have the answers to those questions, but the keys to the Thunder's victory tonight are forcing turnovers and bench production. The Clippers turn the ball over second most in the NBA, and if the Thunder can get out in transition (something they haven't done well at all lately), they can quickly rack up points. Also, the Clippers have one of the weakest benches in the NBA, especially in the front court. So if the Thunder can defensively shut down the lane (also something they haven't done lately), this win should be easy. Right?

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 109, Los Angeles Clippers 105