LA Clippers (7-1) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (6-2)
Chesapeake Energy Arena
5:00 p.m. PST
November 11, 2016
Prime Ticket/NBA TV
The LA Clippers have one loss this season in what has been the best start in franchise history – last Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That game left the Thunder as the NBA’s last unbeaten team, but they’re only 2-2 since then, while the Clippers are 4-0, giving the Clippers the best record in the league as of Friday morning.
Now, 9 days after the first meeting in Los Angeles, the Clippers travel to Oklahoma City for the front end of a back-to-back. It will be an opportunity to see just how much the Clippers have improved since Oklahoma City held them to a season-low 83 points on 87 shots last week.
The Clippers have been the best defense in the NBA so far this season, holding teams to league-lows 88.2 points per game and 39.6 percent from the field, and they did a decent job of keeping Oklahoma City in check last week. Thunder PG Russell Westbrook had a game-high 35 points, but he also had 10 turnovers, while no other Thunder player scored in double figures.
Oklahoma City ranks 4th in defensive efficiency, particularly excelling at defending the three, where opponents have shot a league-worst 29.8 percent so far this season. But the Thunder are coming off their first home loss of the season, as Toronto SG DeMar DeRozan didn’t need threes to light up Oklahoma City for an efficient 37 points in a 112-102 Raptors win.
The Clippers have been better offensively since the Thunder loss last Wednesday. LA had an offensive efficiency rating of 98.1 for the season by the end of their loss vs the Thunder last week, which ranked 23rd in the NBA. Since November 3, the Clippers have compiled an offensive efficiency rating of 113.1, ranking 3rd in the NBA. The Clippers won in Memphis last Friday night, and then won in San Antonio and beat the Pistons and Trail Blazers by team-record margins. For anyone wondering, the largest Clippers win over the Thunder franchise is 30 points (November 2004 vs Supersonics), while the largest win at Oklahoma City is 20 points.
Clippers starters haven’t had to play in the 4th quarter in the last three games, so the energy it would take to keep control of this game in Chesapeake Energy Arena should be there. It will be PF Blake Griffin’s first game in his hometown since the Clippers lost Game 5 of the 2014 Western Conference Semifinals.
The Clippers have lost 3 of the last 4 regular season games at Oklahoma City, with the lone win taking place in March 2015 behind a game-high 33 points from PG Chris Paul. Paul has destroyed his matchups with PGs lately, with Portland PG Damian Lillard being the latest victim from Wednesday night. Obviously, containing Westbrook will be a major key towards the Clippers holding on to the best record in the NBA, but the biggest challenge for the Clippers will simply be to show that they’re completely over the worst offensive display of the season.
Only one team has beaten the Clippers this season, and LA will see them tonight in Oklahoma City. What do Clippers need to do better at OKC?
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) November 11, 2016