- When – Wednesday, 13 November 2013 at 9:30 PM CST
- Where – Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Finally! The first prime-time match-up of the year for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sure, they’ve faced the Dallas Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves, but this is the type of game that the national media salivates for. A game in November that, in actuality, has little to no meaning, but who’s hype rivals that of a match-up in May. Two teams many media pundits have picked as possibly coming out of the loaded Western Conference.
The Thunder come into the game having won 4 in a row after starting the season 1-1. They are starting to fall in line offensively, with Russell Westbrook working his way back into game shape and Kevin Durant leading the league in scoring (30.2 ppg). The bench, one of the many question marks coming into the season, appears to be one of the strengths of the team. But, 3-point shooting is still a huge concern for the team, as they are only shooting 27% from deep, good for 28th in the league.
This is the first of four meetings between the Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder swept the season series last season, with one game going into overtime and the Thunder winning another one by 4 points. Stylistically, these teams are very transition oriented, which usually leads to high scoring affairs.
The Los Angeles Clippers come into tonight’s game with a 5-3 record. After losing to their Staples Center brethren on opening night, the Clippers have won 5 of 7, with their two losses coming on a road trip through Florida (Miami and Orlando). The Clippers’ offense is the best in the league, in terms of points scored per game, at 109.9. But that figured is negated by the fact that they allowed the 28th most points in the league at 106.4 points per game. That offense is orchestrated by, arguably, the best pure point guard in the league in Chris Paul, who is averaging a league best 12.4 assists per game, while also notching 21.3 points. The starting lineup is a hyper active mix of athletic big men (Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan), a scoring wing (JJ Redick), and a 3 and D wing (Jared Dudley). The Clippers also boast one of the stronger benches in the league led by Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, and Darren Collison, but lack any big man depth.
Probable Starting Line-Ups
Los Angeles Clippers
- PG – Chris Paul
- SG – JJ Redick
- SF – Jared Dudley
- PF – Blake Griffin
- C – DeAndre Jordan
Oklahoma City Thunder
- PG – Russell Westbrook
- SG – Thabo Sefolosha
- SF – Kevin Durant
- PF – Serge Ibaka
- C – Steven Adams
3 Keys to the Game
1. Perimeter Defense – One of the biggest weapons for the Clippers is their 3-point shooting. Redick, Dudley, Paul, and Crawford all have the ability to fill it up from deep. The guy is controlling Paul. The Thunder have done a pretty good job of that by keeping Sefolosha on Paul, instead of Westbrook. Keeping Paul bottled up allows the perimeter defenders to stay on the shooters.
2. Turnovers – These two teams, along with Miami and Houston, are probably the quickest at converting an opponent’s turnovers into point on the other end of the floor. The key to limiting a lot of the Clippers’ transition game is by limiting the opportunities. Conversely, this is also the way to attack the Clippers, as their defensive rating is 3rd worst in the league at 108.9. The Clippers are especially fond of giving up the 3-point shot, but the Thunder and the 3-point shot aren’t currently getting along.
3. Bench – It is imperative that the Thunder bench keep pace with the Clippers bench. With our bench depth suffering a bit with the loss of Kendrick Perkins due to the loss of his grandfather, it’s important that Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb keep the pressure on the Clippers while they are on the floor.
Condolences to Kendrick Perkins on the loss of his grandfather. If he’s anything like his grandson, he’s probably setting screens of biblical proportions for angels in pick-up games.