Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
7:30 p.m. PST
November 13, 2013
1. What’s the best way for the Clippers to defend Kevin Durant?
Royce Young, Daily Thunder, (@royceyoung): Prayer? Jared Dudley is probably the best defender for the Clippers to throw at Durant, mainly because you don’t want him to get settled and comfortable in the post. And I’d shade him severely with help off of the Thunder’s three-point shooters, because so far, they aren’t making anything.
Jordan Heimer, (@jordanheimer): To quote Doc Rivers answering a similar question last night about guarding Kevin Love: “pray.” The man has won the scoring title in three of the past four years, and his game continues to advance. Time was, you could fluster KD by running an extra man at him, but his improved passing allows him to find the open man. Also: hope the Thunder don’t run too many KD/Westbrook pick and rolls (they usually don’t), since the Clips’ inability to cover the “pop” man could prove fatal when that man is the best shooter on the planet.
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): I thought Blake Griffin was surprisingly admirable in those stretches against LeBron James last week, but I don’t see the Clippers using that option much on Durant. The best approach is to hope that a combination of Dudley and Barnes can contain him. And it can’t hurt to make him chase the Clipper wings off screens all night on the other end of the floor.
2. Does Russell Westbrook continue his early-season struggles Wednesday night?
Young: He’s always played really well in his hometown, but he’s got the duty of defending Chris Paul, which means he may not have the opportunity to think too much about his own offense. Westbrook’s problems have mostly stemmed from not being able to finish at the rim, which is something he’ll sort out, but he has bigger issues to worry about tonight.
Heimer: Probably? I wouldn’t make too much of the ugly box scores – Westbrook has always had his fair share of ugly shooting nights. But the low assist total may be a more accurate indicator that he’s less than 100 percent. A healthy Westbrook creates havoc in transition and in the bounce, drawing in defenders to stop the ball, and creating easy looks for cutters and spot-up shooters.
James: Considering the Clippers’ defense of late, he’s got a great shot at turning things around. That said, even though he’s shooting a low percentage from the floor (33.8) and turning the ball over as often as he’s assisting (1.07 assist-to-turnover ratio), he’s still managed to put up 20 points in three of his four games – at a time when no one was expecting him to play at all. Oh, and those four games: all wins.
3. Does Chris Paul continue his streak of eight consecutive double-doubles to start the season?
Young:The Thunder have historically defended Paul well, using both Westbrook and Sefolosha to keep him out of the paint and take contested jumpers. But CP3 just seems to be at another level right now and playing at home with a big national TV game, I’ve got to think he keeps his streak going.
Heimer: When asked the same question last night, Doc jokingly begged reporters “not to tell Chris” about the streak, referencing the distraction of Rajon Rondo’s assist streak in Boston. The Clips don’t have to worry. While Rondo may have sometimes played to the streak, this team is naturally built for space and speed, the two factors allowing CP3 to thrive.
James: I don’t know how much it matters. What does matter is his shot, which has kind of deserted him these last few nights. Sure, he was 7-for-14 against Minnesota, but many of those brilliant shots were followed by bricked open looks and turnovers (six on the night). Here’s to hoping for a steadier hand and some re-calibrated shooting – and something better than 27 percent from three.