Clippers-Thunder Preview

WILD AND WOOLY WESTERN WAR MATCHING LAC/OKC RESUMES TUESDAY NIGHT

If the players and coaches don’t what to expect from quarter-to-quarter (let alone game-to-game), what are sports bettors and handicappers supposed to do when the thrilling Los Angeles Clippers/Oklahoma City Thunder series resumes Tuesday Night? Either team can win any quarter by 15 points. Both offenses seem to blow hot or cold with little warning!

Oddsmakers have made Oklahoma City a favorite of -5.5 points as we write this up. That suggests home court “plus” one or two points of superiority in neutral court Power Ratings. Is that fair? Is Oklahoma City really the better team?

Results so far:
Game One: Los Angeles Clippers by 17 on the road
Game Two: Oklahoma City by 11 at home
Game Three: Oklahoma City by 6 on the road
Game Four: Los Angeles Clippers by 2 at home

That works out to the Clippers being better by one point per game…which isn’t in line with the market. That being said, the final scoreboard margins have missed the game-day price by 22, 6, 10, and 3 so far, meaning the price may not matter! Somebody’s going to get hot, and that team’s going to cover the spread. In fact, the Clippers had an amazing fourth quarter this past Sunday afternoon and still couldn’t cover the spread! That may be what’s influencing the market. The fact that OKC should arguably be up 3-1 in the series right now if not for a miraculous finish.  

Let’s get back to basics here and study strengths and weaknesses thus far in this series.

STRENGTHS FOR THE LA CLIPPERS

  • Avoiding Turnovers
  • Forcing Turnovers
  • Blake Griffin is a monster

The turnover category is really the only place that the Clippers excel. While Griffin is a true force to be reckoned with…Oklahoma City also has some forces like that in the form if Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. What gives the Clippers a shot to advance is that they have a few extra possessions each game that have a chance to turn into points. Check this out:

Turnover Differentials
Game One: LA Clippers by 9
Game Two: LA Clippers by 2
Game Three: LA Clippers by 8
Game Four: LA Clippers by 7

That’s +26 for the series, with a clean sweep game-by-game. Long range shooting comes and goes (a peak of 15/29 in the opener, to a valley of 3/21 this past Sunday). Griffin can’t always stay on the floor because of his tendency to draw fouls. The Clippers own the turnover department because Chris Paul really does provide insurance against bad things!

STRENGTHS FOR OKLAHOMA CITY

  • Rebounding
  • Scoring Inside the Arc

The Thunder are most dangerous when Westbrook is distributing the ball and his teammates are draining shots. It’s now always a sure thing that he’s going to do that…and then it’s not automatic his teammates will score when he does. If he’s focused on hero-ball, then it’s a coin flip as to whether or not that’s going to work.

Oklahoma City has shot 53%, 56%, 61%, and 51% so far on two-point attempts in the series. Much of that is keyed by Westbrook flying at the basket and converting. Note that the team LOST at 53% and 51% though. Not much margin for error.

Because of their team speed, Oklahoma City is +41 in rebound differential. They chase down more misses, in addition to having enough beef to counteract Griffin on the glass.

Las Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 5.5, total of 212.5

Handicappers have to work through those strengths to determine which will matter more in tonight’s pivotal fifth game. Smart offense from the Thunder can definitely cover that number even if they’ve been outscored thus far in the series. But, turnovers and other wasted possessions would make it much more difficult to climb the mountain.

JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his on-site sources to get the right read on this game. He already has a full grasp of the statistical and personnel matchups thanks to other elements in NETWORK’S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach. It’s all going to come together tonight for a winner in this one PLUS the fifth game of Washington/Indiana. Get Tuesday’s NBA PLAYOFF PARLAY right here at the website with your credit card in the hours before tipoff.

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