Clippers Thunder Preview

CLIPPERS, THUNDER HAVE NO MARGIN OF ERROR IN CROWDED WESTERN CONFERENCE DOGFIGHT

Things are not going well for either the Los Angeles Clippers or the Oklahoma City Thunder as they prepare to square off in a nationally televised NBA tilt early Sunday afternoon. These two were supposed to step into the breach when the San Antonio Spurs finally started to show signs of aging. That happened...but the Clippers and Thunder are in danger of not mattering!

*The Clippers have just lost three straight games to fall down to the #6 spot in the Western brackets. Anything can happen come playoff time. But, it's going to be hard to win the West from the lower half of the brackets.

*The Thunder may not even make the playoffs (!) because "getting healthy" after the returns of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant hasn't been as dynamic as expected. If the playoffs ended today, they'd be on the outside looking in. It's not like Phoenix or New Orleans ahead of them is about to collapse. They've already lost the tie-breaker to the Pelicans thanks to a buzzer trey by Anthony Davis this past Friday Night.

*Both may be dealing with chemistry issues as well. OKC just acquired Dion Waiters, a ball-stopping poison who gets in the way more than he helps. Look how great Cleveland started playing when he left! LAC just acquired their coach's son Austin Rivers...who's a D-League player at best. The team sags whenever he gets minutes. And, veteran Chris Paul can get grouchy and hard to be around when things aren't going well.

You'll keep seeing Paul, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Durant in TV commercials (though that seems to be waning this season). Will you see either team after the first round of the 2015 playoffs?! Let's dig through JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats to see what we can find out.

Offensive Efficiency
LA Clippers: 110.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #1 in the NBA)
Oklahoma City: 101.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #19 in the NBA)

The Clippers still have a great offense. Virtually unstoppable some nights unless the refs aren't calling any fouls. They have inside/outside weaponry...a great quarterback in Paul...and a few guys who can get to the free throw line for easy points. Golden State's offense is getting all the press. LAC is just as productive on a per-possession basis. Oklahoma City? The numbers are too negative because they include all the games missed by Westbrook and Durant. But, even with those guys healthy, the offense hasn't been as potent as needed to be a serious entry in the championship discussion. They are a playoff team when healthy...but not the shining light in the field.

Defensive Efficiency
LA Clippers: 104.0 per 100 possessions (ranked #17 in the NBA)
Oklahoma City: 100.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #10 in the NBA)

Disappointing numbers here if you believe that "defense wins championships." Don't forget that Golden State has the #1 per possession defense in the league. The Clippers are just average, which becomes a huge negative in playoff-style halfcourt basketball. Oklahoma City's athleticism allows them to compete...but still forces their offense to outscore what they allow.

Pace Ranking
LA Clippers: #14
Oklahoma City: #9

Nothing important here. The Clippers are close to average. OKC is a bit faster than average, which only serves to take them out of their comfort zone come playoff time. This isn't likely to be an issue head-to-head. Though...it is an early tip, and those games can be slower than others. That would favor the visitor that prefers the halfcourt game.

Against the Spread
LA Clippers: 20-31
Oklahoma City: 21-27-2

Wow...both teams have been money burners. Had you realized the Clippers were so bad against the number? Oddsmakers have been VERY slow to react to multiple major storylines this season. Apparently they've been watching too many insurance commercials and not enough real basketball. The Clippers are worse than a 40% cover team so far.

JIM HURLEY will be looking very closely at this game once the line is up on the Vegas board. But, he won't force a play just because it's on TV. There's a busy Sunday card in the NBA (also featuring Atlanta/Memphis, San Antonio/Toronto, and Portland/Houston) and in the colleges (including a few Big 10 and Pac 12 games). You'll be able to purchase the final word in the hours before tipoff Sunday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453

It's back to college basketball Monday in the NOTEBOOK. Here's what's ahead this week...

Monday: College Basketball Preview...Duke at Florida State in the ACC
Tuesday: College Basketball Preview...New Mexico at Colorado State in the M-West
Wednesday: College Basketball Preview...Villanova at Providence in the Big East
Thursday: College Basketball Preview...Stanford at Utah in the Pac 12
Friday: College Early Look...Ohio State at Michigan State in the Big 10
Saturday: College Basketball GameDay...Connecticut at SMU in the AAC
Sunday: NBA State of the League at the All-Star Break

That's six different conferences in six days in college hoops...and then All-Star Sunday in the NBA as we assess the highs and lows before the stretch run.

It's wall-to-wall basketball until MARCH MADNESS hands off to Major League Baseball. Stop leaving money on the table waiting until the tournaments arrive to get back in the swing of things. Football is OVER. Don't sit on the sidelines...GET IN THE GAME with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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Nov

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