Mar 3, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) falls during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Game 9 Preview: Clippers (5-3) at Thunder (5-1)

 

Who: Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder
When: 10:35 PM Eastern Standard Time, 7:35 Pacific Time on ESPN, Clippers @ Thunder tickets
Betting Line:

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This isn’t a Western Conference preview, but it might just be a Western Conference preview.

In the grand scheme of things this game won’t matter much unless the Clippers and Thunder have the same record come seasons end. Then they’ll use the head-to-head record as a tie-breaker. But this is a great test for the Los Angeles Clippers to see how they match up with an Oklahoma City Thunder team that been a top team in the West for the last three seasons.

Since Russell Westbrook returned the Thunder have been clicking on all cylinders. The Clippers have played well outside of a few losses on a road trip, but this is a different monster. Chris Paul, Doc Rivers, etc. have all preached defense and how things are coming together, so there’s no better test than facing this high powered OKC offense.

Three Things to Watch:

1. Thunder rookie Steven Adams Gets His First Start

Due to the absence of Kendrick Perkins who is dealing with a death in the family, first round pick Steven Adams will get his first start of his young NBA career. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Adams brings an aspect to the game that Kendrick Perkins can’t. He’s athletic, mobile and isn’t a complete zero on offense. Adams is currently averaging 6 points, 6 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 20 minutes per night, all higher than Perkins numbers. Going up against Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in his first start will be a great test to see what the center of the future for OKC is all about.

2. Chris Paul vs. Russell Westbrook

You could argue that these are the two best point guards in the NBA, but Tony Parker and San Antonio Spurs fans would have something to say about it. This is the perfect matchup between what some see as the traditional point guard in the NBA and what people see as what will be the common point guard in the future as the athletic revolution is taking the position by storm.

Since Russell Westbrook joined the league in 2008, he and Paul have played each other well in the 15 meetings they’ve met in. Whether talking about the win/loss column or the statistics, Paul has had the upper-hand so far.

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The last time these two met up Westbrook outplayed Paul, scoring 29 points on 20 shots compared to Paul’s 26 points on 21 shots. The Thunder also walked away with a victory. History tells us the two will compete hard against each other tonight.

3. Will Blake Griffin Draw the Task of Guarding Kevin Durant?

Late in games, the Oklahoma City Thunder love to go with a lineup that consists of four wings and a big. If the Clippers stick to their starting lineup we will get a chance to see Blake Griffin guarding Kevin Durant. On paper that sounds like a bad matchup, but after is performance against Lebron James you’d think he could do a good job against KD. Granted Durant is a far superior shooter than James, Griffin’s speed and length could affect Durant more than Matt Barnes and Jared Dudley could.

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Tags: Chris Paul ESPN Game Preview Kendrick Perkins Kevin Durant Los Angeles Clippers NBA Oklahoma City Thunder

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