Thunder-Clippers Preview: THE SEASON IS HERRRRE!!!



IT’S BACK! IT’S BACK, IT’S BACK, IT’S BACK, and for the first time in three weeks, these games actually mean something.

What better way for the Clippers to kickstart their 2014-15 season than meeting up against the team who was responsible for ending their season in the Oklahoma City Thunder. Granted this isn’t the team, personnel wise, that ended the Clippers championship dreams last season — Kevin Durant, Anthony Morrow, Reggie Jackson, Mitch McGary, and Jeremy Lamb are all out — but it’s the franchise and Russell Westbrook/Serge Ibaka are still around, so things are gonna be interesting.

There’s a lot of excitement and optimism around this team, especially if Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan keep making improvements toward their projected ceilings. Some believe this is the best team in Clippers history. Many believe this is the best team in the Western Conference. There are even some who believe in June, it’ll be Steve Ballmer presenting the troops with the Larry O’Brien trophy. It’s a weird feeling considering the Clippers are the Clippers, but with the improvements made over the last years and a half, it may be right.

And the journey starts now. Would a loss doom the season? No, but it’d set the template for how they attack the season and a great start out the gate, especially in a hectic Western Conference, would be good for this group.



Earlier today, we posted a question-and-answer sessions with Kevin Yeung of SB Nation’s Oklahoma City Thunder blog ‘Welcome to Loud City’. Linked here, Yeung speaks on whether Jeremy Lamb is in a “make-or-break” period, guesses if Reggie Jackson will be a member of the Thunder this time next year, and much more. Here is a preview below:

"Westbrook is crazy. I can’t tell you what goes on in his mind when he’s on the basketball court, but it’s somewhere between “I want to score” and “HAHAHA I AM GOING TO TEAR YOU LIMB FROM LIMB.” He could put up thirty shots a game. He’s probably looking forward to it. There’s going to be a million bodies waiting for him in the paint every time, which is the tricky part, but I don’t think that’s going to stop him. And if anyone other than LeBron James is winning one-on-five on a mad drive to the rim, I’d put my money on Westbrook."

Things to Watch

1) Point God vs. The Destroyer of Worlds

Chris Paul versus Russell Westbrook. Outside of Kevin Durant versus LeBron James, there may not be a better positional matchup in the NBA. And because the two guards in differing methods — Paul methodically breaks down his opponents while Russell Westbrook physically dominates the opposites — the matchup draws intrigue.

The playoffs showed us these two brings out the best of each other. In the six-game Western Conference semi-finals series, CP3 averaged 22-12-2.5; Westbrook averaged 27-8-6. It’s basketball porn to the highest degree and with Kevin Durant out of the equation (that alone factors to 10+ extra possessions for Westbrook), we’ll be in for a show because of the lead guard position.

2) Small Forward, Small Forward, Small Forward

Grab three slices of paper, write the names of the Clippers small forwards on them, throw them in a hat, and randomly select a name because I can’t think of a better way to decide which player of the Matt Barnes, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Reggie Bullock trio will perform best, and that’s if each is given an opportunity.

For the Clippers sake, the off-season was a worst-case scenario situation — Matt Barnes couldn’t hit anything, Reggie Bullock looked lost, and Douglas-Roberts was a bit wild, appearance and all. With an equal cast of wings opposite of them, maybe this is where one (or two) of the three catch stride.

The Clippers would be better for it.

3) Defense on Westbrook

There’s no Kevin Durant, no Reggie Jackson, no Anthony Morrow, and no Jeremy Lamb, so on the perimeter for the Thunder it’s Russell Westbrook and some players you’d be hard-pressed to notice if they strolled by you in the general public.

And because of that, Rivers has the ability to contort the defense to focus solely on shutting Westbrook down. Do you let Westbrook score and focus on those around him, or as we call it the San Antonio Spurs vs. Cleveland Cavaliers method in the 2007 NBA Finals? Or do you make him a playmaker, a role Westbrook has yet to fully embrace in the league? It’ll be interesting, especially considering Rivers is one of the best defensive minds in basketball.


Considering the Clippers are one of the best teams offensively and the Thunder are on the second night of a back-to-back, I’m gonna have to go Clippers by 18, 117-99.