OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (5-1)
at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (5-3)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 10:35 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -3.5, Total: 209.5
The Thunder and Clippers battle it out for early season Western Conference supremacy on Wednesday night.
Oklahoma City has won four straight contests (2-2 ATS) as it opens a three-game road trip in Los Angeles. In their most recent game on Sunday, the Thunder defeated the Wizards in overtime, 106-105. They needed a late, game-tying 3-pointer by Kevin Durant to send the game into OT, in which Oklahoma City barely edged out the visiting Wizards. After going 1-2 SU on a three-game road trip, L.A. opened a four-game homestand on Monday against the Timberwolves, surviving with a 109-107 win after three missed shots in the last three seconds by Minnesota. The Clippers are undefeated thus far at home (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) and will look to stay that way against the Thunder, who are 2-1 SU (1-2 ATS) on the road. Oklahoma City is 41-22 SU (30-32 ATS) in this series since 1996, including a 3-0 record (SU and ATS) last season by margins of 6, 12 and 4 points. The Over is 7-1 in the past eight games in this series. Both teams are relatively healthy, but Thunder PF Nick Collison is questionable for this game due to a hip injury.
Which Western Conference heavyweight will win Wednesday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Forecaster has been spot-on so far this season with a 60% ATS record (21-14), while the five experts were a perfect 6-0 ATS on Best Bets on Tuesday night, with StatFox Dave going 2-0 ATS to improve to 58.3% ATS (7-5) for the season.
Oklahoma City did not look to be playing with the same ferocity and confidence that it had last season before PG Russell Westbrook returned to the team from injury, but is undefeated (4-0 SU) with him on the court. Their offense has scored 102.8 PPG (43.7% FG) and has scored at least 101 points in each of their wins this year. Last season, the Thunder led the league in free throw percentage (82.8%) and are currently second in the league in this category (83.7%). The Oklahoma City defense has allowed a subpar 100.3 PPG, but opponents are shooting just 43.2% FG (7th-best in NBA) thanks in part to 6.0 BPG (4th in NBA). SF Kevin Durant (30.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 4.3 APG) is once again leading the league in scoring and has netted 33+ points in 4-of-6 games this season. Durant has scored 28.2 PPG (46.2% FG) with 7.8 RPG in 21 career games against the Clippers including 34.0 PPG (10-of-20 threes) last season. PG Russell Westbrook (19.0 PPG, 3.8 APG) has put the spark back in the Thunder, but has shot only 33.8% from the field and is well below his career average of 6.9 APG in his first four games played. Westbrook has really struggled in 18 career games (17 starts) when facing the Clippers, scoring 16.7 PPG (36.7% FG) and dishing out 5.8 APG. However, he scored 26.0 PPG with 8.3 APG in last season's series. PF Serge Ibaka (13.2 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.8 BPG) has looked like his old self over the past three games with 17.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG and 3.0 BPG, and scored 16.0 PPG (61.3% FG) with 8.0 RPG and 2.0 BPG in three meetings with L.A. last season.
The Clippers have scored a league-leading 109.9 PPG, and are third in the NBA with a 48.7% FG clip. But they have only 96.7 PPG in their three losses. At home this year they are scoring an impressive 124.0 PPG on 52.1% FG. With such a fast-paced offense, L.A. has slacked on defense, allowing 106.4 PPG (3rd-most in NBA) to opposing teams. PG Chris Paul (21.3 PPG, 12.4 APG, 2.9 SPG) has had a double-double in all eight games this season and has gone 55-for-57 (97%) from the free throw line. Paul has averaged 18.2 PPG, 9.6 APG and 2.8 SPG in 26 career games against the Thunder, but shot just 28.6% FG (10-for-35) against them last season. PF Blake Griffin (22.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG) has been extremely effective this season (career-high 57.1% FG) and has had a double-double in 5-of-8 games this season. Griffin has averaged 22.1 PPG (53.8% FG) and 10.0 RPG in 11 career games against the Thunder. C DeAndre Jordan (11.4 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 1.5 SPG) is averaging career highs in all major stats, but is shooting a dreadful 37.8% from the foul line on the year. SGs Jamal Crawford (16.6 PPG, 47% threes) and J.J. Redick (16.3 PPG, 36% threes) continue to provide reliable long-range shooting.