Apr 9, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) dribbles the ball as Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes (22) defends during the fourth quarter at Staples Center. The Thunder won 107-101. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Playoffs: Clippers vs Thunder Game One Preview

Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Clippers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Game 1 – Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, OK

6:30 PM PST – TNT 

Clippers vs. Thunder tickets

In what should be the best series of the second round of the NBA playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder will go to battle beginning tonight in OKC.

The Clippers, who are still recovering from a difficult seven-game series against the Golden State Warriors and the Donald Sterling fallout, will be at a disadvantage in terms of home-court this series and will be facing the NBA MVP in Kevin Durant. The Clippers and Thunder split the season series 2-2 and seem to match up against each other very well.

The Clippers featured and three headed monster of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, while the Thunder will counter with Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. Both teams play an uptempo style and can shoot the lights out on any given night.

On offense it would seem, based on their season averages, that the Clippers have the edge. However, playoff basketball is a little different. The Thunder have two players who can go off for forty on any given night and they’ve been known to score 70 points on any given night just by themselves. That’s before we get to Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, or even Jeremy Lamb (did I just really say that?). Chris Paul isn’t going for 40. Blake might, but it’s going to be much tougher against Steven Adams and Ibaka. The Clippers have the better outside shooting with J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford. It’s too close to call. It’s going to come down to consistency and defense leading to offense.

Speaking of which, the Thunder and Clippers are also very similar defensively. The Thunder are probably the more sound defensive team, especially with Ibaka being the lead leader in blocks and Westbrook being a premier perimeter defender. However, the Clippers take more chances and have a safe guard in Jordan. If Jordan is playing as well defensively as he did last round against the Warriors, then the edge shifts to the Clippers. As I’ve written before, Jordan holds the key to the title for the Clippers.

Lastly, coaching will be the key element in this series. Doc Rivers is flat out the better coach in this series. I’m not saying that Scotty Brooks isn’t a talented mind. He definitely is and has led his Thunder to an NBA Finals appearance before. But there’s not many better coaches in the league than Doc Rivers. If Rivers can play the right cards in this series, he may be able to steal a game from the Thunder that the Clippers don’t deserve to win.

As for game one, I have a feeling it’s going to be an up and down game with both teams trying to figure out what the other is going to do. Home court advantage is a real thing in OKC. The Thunder have some of the best fans in the NBA and will make a difference tonight. I think the Clippers will come out hot, but the Thunder will prevail down the stretch.

Prediction: Thunder 106 – Clippers 101

Tags: Blake Griffin Chris Paul DeAndre Jordan Doc Rivers Kevin Durant Los Angeles Clippers Russell Westbrook

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