The NBA’s best team by record, the Oklahoma City Thunder (16-3, 8-2 away), head into a tough road match-up against the Los Angeles Clippers (11-6, 9-2 home) in what should be an exciting contest between two of the league’s best squads. Coming into tonight’s match-up as the top road team in the league and riding a 4-game winning streak, Kevin Durant and the Thunder will look to overcome the strong home attack of Blake Griffin and the Clippers, but regardless of the outcome there should be plenty of scoring and action to make this one of the best options for online sports betting at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewedright here.
Blake Griffin (21.0 points, 11.3 rebounds/game) has thus far been the better of the two biggest stars in this match-up, as in the 4 meetings between the two teams he’s been involved with, Griffin has amassed 26.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game on just over 60 percent shooting. Kevin Durant meanwhile, last year’s scoring champion (26.3 points, 7.6 rebounds this season), has been more subdued against the Clippers than most other teams in the league having generated an average of 22.3 points and 6.8 boards over the same 4-game stretch, and it’s evident that L.A.’s game plan has been to put plenty of pressure on him, indicated by his relatively weak 35.9 percent shooting performance in those games. However, as the series is tied at 2 games apiece over the last 4 contests against one another, Los Angeles has had at least some difficulty stopping the rest of the Thunder, including OKC’s talented point guard Russell Westbrook (20.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists).
This year though may perhaps be the first time in a very, very long spell that the Clippers truly have a team capable of competing into the playoffs, as the addition of elite point guard Chris Paul 17.4 points, 8.5 assists) has them looking like a true threat for the long run, and in this match-up at home Paul will get his first crack at the OKC Thunder as a member of Lob City, as he too has had good success with the ball against them, averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 assists per contest in his last 4 meetings as a member of the New Orleans Hornets. What stands out for the Clippers this year versus previous lackluster seasons is their scoring depth, as 5 players are averaging 14.7 points or better per game, and without a doubt the veteran presence of Caron Butler (14.7 points) and Chauncey Billups (16.0 points) have further helped to take the load off of Blake Griffin to carry his team to victory.
Against the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight, the Clippers must continue to hound Kevin Durant, who comes off his biggest scoring night of the year amassing 37 points and 14 rebounds in a 120-109 win over Golden State. Also, the Clippers must take advantage of turnovers tonight, which the Thunder are prone to struggle with, averaging 16.5 giveaways per contest. The Clippers rank as one of the league’s best with the ball, giving it away 13.3 times per game, so converting any extra opportunities the Thunder give them will certainly aid them in the bottom scoring line this evening. Conversely, OKC has a big advantage on the glass, ranking 8th in the NBA with 43.1 boards per game, while Los Angeles struggles a bit with their smaller line-up to pull down loose rebounds, accumulating 40.8 rebounds a contest. The Clips’ top rebounders, Blake Griffin, center DeAndre Jordan (8.7 boards) and bench contributor Reggie Evans (5.3 boards) must get more help from the rest of the team to pull down errant shots, especially on the offensive side of the spectrum. While the Thunder are good overall at rebounding, they haven’t been especially good on the offensive glass, sitting close to last in the league with just 9.8 offensive rebounds a game. Finding a way to dominate the paint and pull down a few extra offensive rebounds could help give L.A. a positive edge against a very good road team in OKC.
For the Thunder, scoring hasn’t been tough to come by lately as is evident by their 11 wins in their last 12 games, in which OKC has averaged 101.4 points per contest, but with L.A. averaging nearly 100 points a contest while going 9-2 at home, they are going to have to do a better job protecting the ball and avoiding costly errors. A key match-up tonight though will be the battle between Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul at the point, as Westbrook comes off a game with a season-high 7 turnovers, and Chris Paul averaged almost 4 steals a game in 4 contests against the Thunder last year. Westbrook committed 24 turnovers (6 per game) during that same stretch, so the turnover margin between these two players could factor highly into the outcome. Also, Oklahoma City did not win either of the games played at Staples Center last year, and low shooting percentage was a big part of the reason as the Thunder shot just 39.5 percent from the floor in those two meetings, and averaged just 4 3-pointers made per contest. The Clippers aren’t much of better team around the perimeter than the Thunder are, but in a game that will likely see a lot of scoring and a close finish, the 3-pt ball is going to be a critical factor. That is where James Harden (16.9 points, 39.3 percent from 3-pt range), the Thunder’s candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, will have to be involved more for OKC. As the Clipper’s Chauncey Billups comes into the match-up off last night’s 32 point performance with 6 3’s, Harden’s production around the arc needs to be there for the Thunder especially late in the game.
Betting Lines for Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers at Bookmaker Sportsbook
The Bookmaker Sportsbook, one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here on our website, lists the lines for this game in favor of the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, who get -130 odds to win on the money line, and a tight -2 points (-110 odds) against the spread. The home side Los Angeles Clippers will be a slight +110 underdog to win straight up, and get 2 points to play with at home, in what is being billed by every analyst and sports picker as a very tight game. With so many great players on the court, a fast-paced game is highly likely tonight, and with both sides scoring next to 100 points per game (98.5 points/game on the road for the Thunder, 99.2 points/game at home for the Clippers), the 199 points on the over/under total points could be a tough mark to choose a side against. Nonetheless, with the way OKC has been lately, and with the Clippers determined to win a third straight game at home, expect points to rain and the over total points to be the better of the two betting options tonight.
Our Pick to Win:
It’s going to be a tough bet to pick the home side Clippers in tonight’s game, regardless of how well they’ve played at Staples center, as the Thunder are simply the hottest team in the NBA right now, and have shown that they have the confidence and the depth to win in any arena, on any night of the week. A big advantage for the Thunder is that they’ve had a few days’ rest since their win at Golden State on Friday, while the Clippers had to travel from Denver last night for the game at home tonight. Being well rested and hot-handed to begin with, it’ll be a tough task for the Clippers to overcome OKC, especially considering the road form the Thunder have played with so far this year, winning 8 games out of 10 played away from home. However, I like the trend to continue in this series, with both teams winning their games on home court, especially as the Clippers have greatly increased their stock with the veterans Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler, and their star point guard Chris Paul looks to be the key difference maker in tonight’s game if he can smother Russell Westbrook and win the turnover margin for the Clips. I’ll bank a bet on the underdog at home here tonight, taking Los Angeles to win their third straight game, snap the Thunder’s 4-game winnings streak, and prevail with a 102-98 victory in an exciting game that any type of sports fan should be watching this evening.