2014 NBA playoffs preview: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers

4:12 a.m. EDT May 4, 2014 No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23) vs. No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers (57-25)


  • Game 1 in Oklahoma City: Monday, May 5, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 2 in Oklahoma City: Wednesday, May 7, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 3 in Los Angeles: Friday, May 9, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Game 4 in Los Angeles: Sunday, May 11, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Game 5* in Oklahoma City: Tuesday, May 13, TNT
  • Game 6* in Los Angeles: Thursday, May 15, ESPN
  • Game 7* in Oklahoma City: Sunday, May 18, TNT
  • * — if necessary

Season series: Split 2-2.

How the Thunder got here: Beat No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies 4-3.

How the Clippers got here: Beat No. 6 Golden State Warriors 4-3.

Points per game (per 100 possessions): Thunder 106.2, Clippers 107.9 (Thunder 110.5, Clippers 107.5).

Points allowed per game (per 100 possessions): Thunder 99.8, Clippers 101.0 (Thunder 103.9, Clippers 104.8).

Matchups worth watching: Thunder PG Russell Westbrook vs. Clippers PG Chris Paul, Thunder PF Serge Ibaka vs. Clippers PF Blake Griffin.

Scoring leaders: Thunder SF Kevin Durant (32.0 points a game), Griffin (24.1).

Why Oklahoma City will win: Defense is the difference. Westbrook and Durant can only be matched by one duo in the NBA, the Clippers' Paul and Griffin. But the Thunder play much better defense. The matchups for the Clippers will be difficult, too. They have no answer for Durant, and while Paul can frustrate opposing point guards, he risks being run over by his bigger, faster and stronger counterpart. There's also the lingering factor of the Donald Sterling scandal, which could distract the Clippers but also could galvanize them.

Why Los Angeles will win: The best offense in the NBA can get scary. Center DeAndre Jordan's pairing with Griffin should make it difficult for the Thunder to regularly use their smaller lineups, and neither Steven Adams nor Kendrick Perkins offers much on offense. Paul has a long history of stepping up his games against other elite point guards and would relish the opportunity to expose Westbrook's inconsistencies. Westbrook and Durant both have to carry huge loads, while the Clippers are more balanced. Finally, Doc Rivers is a proven championship-caliber coach, while Scott Brooks has drawn a lot of heat lately for misusing his stars.

Did you know? The Clippers have never, even dating back to their Buffalo Braves days, reached the conference finals round.

Prediction: Clippers in 7.

  EEU 19:00  GERMANY U19 - NETHERLANDS U19   1 (1.80)   GOAL (1.62)  
  NO1 20:00 KRISTIANSUND  - ROSENBORG 2 (1.70)   GOAL (1.80)  
Sweden - Superettan SE1  20:00 HACKEN  - HAMMARBY 1 (1.88)   GOAL (1.65)  
Sweden - Superettan SE1  20:00 DJURGÅRDENS IF  - KALMAR FF 1 (1.44)   OVER (1.73)  
Brazil - Serie A BR1 02:00 FLUMINENSE - CHAPECOENSE 1 (1.73)   GOAL (1.91)  

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