In preparation for tonight's critical game between the Thunder and Clippers, we reached out to the ESPN Truehoop site Clipperblog to ask some quick-hit questions. Here are those questions and answers provided by managing editor Law Murray.
1. With Blake Griffin out, the Clippers have been able to stay afloat. Who has stepped up and shouldered the scoring load?
When you talk about scoring load, you have to bring up Chris Paul, who has been a warrior. Paul's averaged more than 20 PPG in Griffin's absence over the last month.
2. When do you expect Griffin to return, and what kind of adjustment will the team need to make, if any?
It makes sense to bring Griffin back at a home game; Sunday against the Rockets would put Griffin at a five-week absence. The team will need to re-integrate Griffin's inside game after a month of being more perimeter oriented.
3. How have the Clippers managed to have the best offense in the NBA despite playing without Griffin and no consistent wing scorer?
It depends on your definition of "consistent wing scorer." J.J. Redick has been very consistent since returning from back spasms, helping Paul out with a healthy 17.9 PPG since Griffin's surgery.
4. How would you rate the Clippers bench?
I still like subjective grades, and for this one, I'd give it a C-. The problem they have now is that perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford is being replaced by some combination of Austin Rivers and Nate Robinson this week.
5. How has Austin Rivers fared thus far?
Speaking of Rivers ... he's not an aesthetically pleasing player and he is inconsistent, to say the least. But despite his shaky shooting and decision-making, he's made me forget about Jordan Farmar.
6. We know the starting five for the Clippers, but what's the closing 5? Is Jordan still a late game liability?
Let's put it this way ... Spencer Hawes and Glen Davis should not be on the floor in place of DeAndre Jordan late in a game if Jordan isn't injured or disqualified. Period. DeAndre Jordan is a notable shot blocker but his post defense has always been suspect.
7. What kinds of improvements has he made this year, and how do you think he will fare against a natural post player like Enes Kanter?
Jordan has a lot of responsibility on the floor, given the amount of minutes he's asked to play (no center has more minutes than Jordan) and the fact that Jordan doesn't foul out. Kanter hasn't been bad against the Clippers (12.1 points per game, 50.7 percent from the field), but he has a personal 13-game losing streak to the Clippers as well.
8. With Westbrook's latest surge, people tend to overlook Chris Paul's play this season. How do you expect him to perform against a guy he has struggled against in the past?
I've got news for you - Paul's trying to tough it out with a bad knee, and this isn't the week for him to be dealing with Westbrook. Paul will have to play a very smart, controlled game, because Russ is going to try and make an example out of him.
Many thanks to Law Murray for taking the time to answer our questions. Be sure to check out ClipperBlog when you have a chance.