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Thunder vs. Clippers: Can the Thunder Even the Season Series? (2011-2012 Game 61 Preview)

I'd love to see a Karate matchup between Reggie Evans and Serge Ibaka. Somebody make it happen!
I'd love to see a Karate matchup between Reggie Evans and Serge Ibaka. Somebody make it happen!

GameThread at 9:30, come discuss the game!

Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (44-16) vs Los Angeles Clippers (37-23)

Time: 9:30 PM Central Daylight Time

Place: The Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

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, ClipperBlog, A Dog Named Clipper

Previous Matchup(s): Jan. 30, Mar. 21, Apr. 11 (Clippers Lead Season Series 2-1)

Last time we saw the Clippers, despite maintaining a lead for most of the game, the Thunder lost in the the fourth quarter. It was classic Chris Paul, where he basically takes everything over and scores 28 points in 25 minutes.

But you already know the set up for this game. If you're a Thunder fan, you've seen the Clippers matchups. Paul and Griffin are both Oklahoma's darlings, and everyone loves to see their two favourite teams go at it.

So here's a few things that you might not know about the matchup, or might have forgotten:

Blake Griffin doesn't play well against the Thunder. In the previous two matchups he's scored below his season average. The reason for this is that he's almost exclusively a back to the basket guy, and Kendrick Perkins is one of the best guys in the league at defending it.

The Clippers are prone to offensive droughts. They rely a lot on the three, and that happens when you rely on the three. They also have horrible big men on the bench, so if Evans and K-Mart are ever on the floor together, not much is going to get accomplished without shooting threes.

The Clippers won't penetrate against the zone. Griffin will certainly find more success, but it's a good way of baiting them into shooting threes when he's out.

The Clippers are really middle of the road in terms of pace. They'll get out an run with the Warriors and Kings, but they'll grind it out against the Grizzlies and Mavericks. The Clips can win both types of games, so there's no real advantage to playing fast or slow against them.

The Clippers are almost the worst free throw shooting team in the NBA. Send those guys to the line!

All in all, it should be another great game full of excitement and disappointment. Well get to see if James Harden recovers from knee soreness, and see whether the Thunder can keep the Western Conference lead over the Spurs, who face a very beatable Warriors team tonight and are only one game behind us. Still, I'm pretty confident the Thunder can pull out a win tonight. The Thunder have shown improvement in drawing up plays for their non-star players, and Durant and Westbrook are in full swing. Has the game started yet?

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 104, Los Angeles Clippers 101