OKC ThunderDome

Beyond…Waaaay Beyond…

Game 4 Preview: Thunder at the LA Clippers

Tipoff 10:30PM EST

The Thunder are facing the first of two away games tonight.  This evening’s game, against the struggling to be relevant (but not really) Clippers are looking to notch their first win of the season.

What to expect:

The Thunder’s past performance is duly noted.  They have struggled with their interior defense and struggled with the perimeter shot.  They have played solid but not great against mediocre teams, and poorly against a superior team.    The Clippers have dropped their first four games, looking mostly inept, breaking 90 points only once.

The Clippers have two bright silver linings – that of Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin.   Gordon has shown signs of explosiveness this season, though as a shooting guard one would hope that his 3-21 3 point shooting percentage might be a tad higher.

Oh me.  Oh my.

Down low, Blake Griffin, injured all of last year, has finally begun to make his impression on the league, averaging 16 and 10 through four games.  He has been every bit as explosive, dynamic, and strong in the post as they’d have hoped.

We’d better stop there.

I gave a listen to Bill Simmons’ podcast that was posted on 11/2, and he touched on Griffin thus far.  Much to his despair, he said that Griffin already appears to have “The Stink” of the Clippers on him.   After only four games, Simmons reported that he’s already seeing Griffin begin to get that glazed over look in his eyes, slumped posture, and a notable lack of energy that only the suck of a defeated organization can infuse in a young talent.

And then there is chubby Baron.  Baron Davis has provided some of the league’s highlights during his time in the NBA.  However, it seems that no other player vacillates between crunch time stud and disinterested three point chucker as Baron.  He again doesn’t seem engaged this year, and that is sad.

With this landscape on the horizon, and the bitter taste of a loss still lingering, you would think that the Thunder should be primed for a strong outing.

A check list for the Thunder:

  • Commit to defensive rebounds.  Griffin is extremely active on the offensive boards, and second chance shots are one of the easiest ways for inferior teams to remain competitive.
  • Commit to early fast breaks.  This goes hand in hand with defensive rebounding.  Westbrook, Durant, and Green have been at their best thus far when pushing the ball and making good fast break decisions.
  • Take less than 15 three point shots.  They’re relying on it too much, and it isn’t falling.  Durant can get any shot he wants to, and Westbrook shouldn’t have much trouble getting into the paint.  Steer clear of the outside shots.
  • Take the home crowd out of the game early.  Avoid cheap turnovers and wasted possessions.  The crowd will only be half full anyway, so it makes it that much easier.

Prediction: Thunder by 9



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