Thunder vs. Clippers preview (Game 2 of 82)

okc logo at clippers

  • When: Friday, 19 October 2018 at 9:30 pm CST
  • Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • TV: FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: LAC -3.0 | O/U: 214

It almost seemed like moral victories were the worst type of losses last season. To have a team that was expected to make a ton of noise as constructed, only to be an inconsistent mess only solidified the point that moral victories were useless last season. None of the losses felt like victories, while a handful of the wins felt like losses. It was a frustrating season all around. 

Which brings me to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s opening night loss against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Without Russell Westbrook or Andre Roberson, the Thunder put up a valiant effort against the defending champion Warriors on ring night. There were times in the first half where it looked like the Warriors were about to run away with the game, but the Thunder battled back every time. Throughout the second half, there were times where it was close enough to almost think the Thunder may have a chance to sneak one out.

Ultimately, the Warriors outlasted the Thunder and won 108-100. But this definitely felt like a moral victory. Instead of folding when they were down by 13 in the first half, they instead, battled back and made it a close game all throughout the second half. It wasn’t the prettiest of games, as the Thunder shot 36% from the field, 27% from deep, and 67% from the line. But the Thunder proved they no longer will just lay down and not fight when a couple of their starters were out. They showed the identity of the team will likely be more fighter/bruiser than entitled superstar expecting to win.

The Recent Life of the Opponent

The Los Angeles Clippers come into this game with an 0-1 record, having lost their home-opener against the Denver Nuggets, 107-98. Fueled by the interior dominance of Boban Marjanovic, the Clippers were up by 8 with 5:14 left in the game. But Denver finished the game on a 23-6 run and never looked back.

Injuries

Thunder

  • Russell Westbrook (knee) – Out
  • Andre Roberson (knee) – Out

Clippers

  • None

Three Big Things

1. Clippers’ Identity

For years, the Clippers’ identity was defined by the foursome of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and coach Doc Rivers. Only the coach remains (even though he isn’t the GM anymore) and now it’s hard to pinpoint just who this team is. They have a lot of good players, but no one that stands out as great. And this can be a problem for teams facing the Clippers, especially early in the season.

Who do you target in the scouting report? Who is the Clippers’ go-to in close game situations? It’s all a toss-up at this point. The Thunder have to play the man, instead of playing the scheme. And that, can be difficult, especially early on in the season.

2. Boban Marjanovic

It’s hard to find a difference-making big man that comes off the bench in the NBA. The last one that I can think of was Enes Kanter when he was with OKC, but he has since moved on to starting pastures in New York. Marjanovic has the ability to affect the game in big ways while not necessarily needing a lot of minutes. In 18 minutes against the Nuggets, Marjanovic had 18 points and 8 rebounds. If that isn’t efficient production, I don’t know what is.

The major difference between the Thunder and Nuggets, though, is the Nuggets don’t necessarily have a solid back-up center. The Thunder, on the other hand, have Nerlens Noel, who can disrupt a game with his defense. While this match-up may not determine the game, it could have a big effect on it.

3. Terrance Ferguson

I’m not necessarily down on Terrance Ferguson at the moment. He had a difficult match-up against Klay Thompson, and maybe his focus was entirely on the defensive end. But he has to be more involved on the offensive end. I know the Thunder miss Andre Roberson, but I don’t think they necessarily want him to mimic Roberson on the offensive end. In tonight’s game, Ferguson will likely be match-up’ed against Avery Bradley. In case you didn’t know, Avery Bradley is not Klay Thompson. So, it would likely be a good game for Ferguson to focus more on both sides of the ball, instead of just one side.

Prediction: It’s a close one, but the Thunder hang on to win 107-102.

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