Where They At: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder course-corrected against the Lakers to no one’s surprise, beating up a terrible team at home after losing a frustratingly close game in Cleveland. Kevin Durant feasted, and the rest of the team played like they knew they would be rewarded for sharing the ball and D-ing up. Anthony Morrow was back, and even in a 40-point blowout Kyle Singler didn’t see the floor until late. The Morrow/Singler watch can safely be called off, so I’ll just go back to griping at Morrow’s minutes remaining too low.
Where They At: Los Angeles Clippers
Like the Thunder, the Clippers have only won four games against winning opponents, and barely. They’ve had an average margin of victory of just 2.75 points in those wins. They’re also Thunder-like in the giant gap between their home (.667) and road (.462) winning percentage.
Even when pushing the Warriors to the brink twice, they’ve sounded completely defeated in the wake of coming up short. The influx of talent that was supposed to fix the Clippers’ depth issues hasn’t meshed well, with Luc Mbah a Moute, who earned the starting small forward spot, being the only solid contributor from the crop of signees that included Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, and Paul Pierce.
There have been some really memorable games between these teams, with the Chris Paul/Clippers Western Conference meltdown just edging out Serge Ibaka punching Blake Griffin in the groin as the most historic moment in the rivalry.
The Thunder match up well against this Clippers roster. The Steven Adams/Ibaka combo has locked down frontcourts all season, and the DeAndre Jordan/Griffin duo will probably struggle. Russell Westbrook gets way up when matching up with Paul, and his physicality tends to outclass Paul’s feisty play. And this is a game where Andre Roberson's strengths could neutralize J.J. Redick, whose play is vital for the Clippers' success. The Thunder are just better right now, enough to get a rare, quality win on the road.
Prediction: Thunder 111 Clippers 106
|2015-16 NBA Season Game #28|
|December 21st, 2015|
|Staples Center, Los Angeles|
|9:30 PM Central Standard Time|
|TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, NBATV|
|Injury Report: Austin Rivers (Doubtful)|
|This Season's Matchups: N/A|
|Russell Westbrook||PG||Chris Paul|
|Andre Roberson||SG||J.J. Redick|
|Kevin Durant||SF||Luc Mbah a Moute|
|Serge Ibaka||PF||Blake Griffin|
|Steven Adams||C||DeAndre Jordan|