Tip-Off: 7 PM CST
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City, OK)
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
G Jamal Crawford is having a somewhat underwhelming season compared to recent years, but with the extended absences of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul lately, he has stepped into a more prominent scoring role. Chris Paul has only played in 1 of the last 5 games for the Clippers, all losses, and during that stretch, Crawford is averaging 16.8 points and 4.4 assists, well above his season averages of 12.5 points and 2.4 assists per game. Back in March, near the end of the 2015-16 season, in what should have been an easy win for the Thunder due to the Clippers resting Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and J.J. Reddick and Blake Griffin out with injury, Jamal Crawford put up 32 points and 7 assists in what ended up being a narrow 119-117 victory for Oklahoma City. Crawford is not the young gun that he used to be, but he still has the ability to put up big numbers if left unchecked.
Keys to the Game
- Stay in Control: Far too often the Thunder find themselves in a bad situation because they let the game get out of control in one way or another. Sometimes this comes in the form of a slow start, poor shot selection, or something silly like Russell Westbrook getting ejected over a nonsensical argument. Oklahoma City needs to start this game off strong and take advantage of the ailing Clippers who have lost five in a row.
- Own the Paint: In the first two matchups between Oklahoma City and Los Angeles, the winner had more points in the paint and more rebounds. The Thunder needs to do everything they can to get the ball inside and abuse a Clippers front-court that is desperately missing Blake Griffin right now. Steven Adams and Enes Kanter have been playing their best basketball of the season as of late, so if they can get something going early, the Clippers could find themselves in a hole.
- Limit Mistakes: Oklahoma City had 18 turnovers against Memphis on Thursday, and early mistakes were a big reason for deficit early in the game. Russell Westbrook committed 6 turnovers alone in the first quarter, which undoubtedly led to the frustration that ended up bubbling over and leading to his ejection. The Clippers are a solid team defensively, but with the absences of Blake Griffin and potentially Chris Paul, they will struggle, so the Thunder need to avoid giving them any free chances at easy points.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.