|March 9, 2016 — 6:30 PM PDT|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena — Oklahoma City, OK|
|Prime Ticket, ESPN|
|Russell Westbrook||PG||Chris Paul|
|Andre Roberson||SG||J.J. Redick|
|Kevin Durant||SF||Jeff Green|
|Serge Ibaka||PF||Paul Pierce|
|Steven Adams||C||DeAndre Jordan|
|Efficiency Stats ('15-'16)|
|96.8 (10th of 30)||Pace||96.3 (13th of 30)|
|112.7 (2nd of 30)||OffRtg||108.0 (7th of 30)|
|105.8 (15th of 30)||DefRtg||103.1 (6th of 30)|
|Blake Griffin, Luc Mbah a Moute|
Russell Westbrook dribbles past a quick Kevin Durant screen. Chris Paul contorts his body to get around the screen, trailing Westbrook. Wesley Johnson, originally guarding Durant, gets caught somewhere between hedging towards Westbrook and sticking to Durant, defending neither. Durant slips towards the baseline around 17 feet and catches a quick pass from Westbrook who recognizes Johnson's inadequate position. Durant rises up for the midrange shot and makes it, with a little over two minutes remaining.
A quick oral history of the only shot the Thunder made in the final 7 minutes and 26 seconds the last time the teams played on March 2nd, 2016. Just one.
Here's the Thunder shot chart over that time frame
Conversely, here's the Clippers shot chart over that span.
The Clippers were down 93-77 and won 103-98.
Paul started the comeback attacking the middle of the Thunder's defense off of ball-screens. With the Thunder defense collapsed in the middle focused on Paul, Johnson spotted up, connecting on a couple of three-pointers during the comeback.
In usual Clipper fashion, DeAndre Jordan masked mistakes by others. That normally occurs on the defensive end. On March 2nd during the comeback, it happened on the offensive. Jordan corralled two offensive rebounds off of poor shots and converted the continued possession into layups.
During the comeback, most things went right for the Clippers and most went wrong for the Thunder. Credit the Clippers created their own luck by attacking the paint. The Thunder settled for jumpshots.
The New York Knicks and the New Orleans Pelicans are the only two non-playoff teams the Clippers play in the next two weeks. There are nine total games starting tonight, and the other seven teams include the Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors and Portland Trailblazers. That stretch also includes three back-to-backs.
The Thunder's next two weeks is easier. They play, in order, the Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Spurs, Trailblazers, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, Rockets, and the Utah Jazz. The Thunder play only two back-to-backs.
This is the third matchup of the season between the two teams. Just like every previous game, the three seed is at stake, which means avoiding the Warriors at home in the second round. The teams are separated by only one game in the loss column, but the Clippers are two games short in the win column.
If current seeding remains, the Clippers would play the Grizzlies in the first round. The Thunder would play the Dallas Mavericks.
Another "three" note. Oklahoma City has only lost three times this year when Westbrook shoots less than 17 shots. They've won the other 23. Westbrook averages 18.5 shot attempts per-game this season and in the two games between the Clippers and Thunder he's shot 25 shots and 21 shots.
The Thunder's starting lineup features the closest you can get to a four-on-five on the offensive end in the modern NBA. Andre Roberson averages 22 minutes per-game and scores just 4.7. Only five players in the NBA play over 20 minutes-per-game and score less than 5 points-per: Alonzo Gee, Anthony Brown, Dante Cunningham, Joakim Noah and Roberson.
Roberson is very effective within 5 feet of the basket, shooting 59.5-percent from that range. Roberson outside of 5 feet is not so great, he shoots 27-percent. Look for the Clippers to basically ignore Roberson anywhere outside of the paint and dare him to beat the Clippers.
Defensively, Roberson can guard four positions, and well. This season, opponents shoot 4.5-percent worse than their normal averages with Roberson guarding them. He's 6-foot-7 and long. Drafted originally as the Thabo replacement, Roberson's made himself a fixture in the starting lineup due to his consistency on that half of the court.
Jeff Green missed all five of his shots last game against the Mavericks. He also missed all seven of his shots last time against the Thunder. In his eight games with the Clippers, he's played approximately the same as everywhere else has been - some good games with a few more bad games.
Green averages 11 points-per-game. If there were a stat for scoring variance from one's own mean, Green must lead the pack. Green's scored zero points twice, but has also scored 22 and 18.
Don't forget Green used to be apart of the Thunder's Big Three pre-Harden. It was Durant, Westbrook and Green. Times have changed.
Green will be the primary option guarding his ex-teammate, Durant, just like last game. Durant scored inefficiently over the course of the game, getting 30 points on 27-shots. For the Clippers to win, Green and the team defense must hold the former MVP to a similar outing.