Oklahoma City Thunder (21-17) at Los Angeles Clippers (17-19)
We can chalk last night’s win up to a free money situation. We were on the Celtics in a matchup with the Cavaliers. On paper, this looked like a huge matchup that would be full of bad blood and would be a preview of the Eastern Conference finals this year. But, the second the Cavs announced they would be sitting a healthy Isaiah Thomas in his return to Boston, I knew this game meant nothing to Cleveland.
The bad blood? There was a lot of it for Kyrie Irving, but Lebron has had sidekicks before that were disgruntled, and he could obviously care less at this point. It was a great value spot, as so many NBA games today are not decided by what team is better, but by what team has more motivation and will give more effort. The game wasn’t overly competitive, and the C’s cruised to an easy win and cover. Today I will be breaking down a matchup of two teams on the rise, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will travel to Los Angeles to play the Clippers tonight. This will be the second straight game for the Thunder at the Staples Center as they blasted the Lakers last night 133-96. The Thunder enters the new year looking like they might have finally started figuring things out with a completely re-hauled roster and went 12-5 in December to help start recovering from an awful start to the season.
The Clippers have room for optimism as well, as they finally got their best player, Blake Griffin, back from injury. The Clippers are 3-0 since Griffin’s return and have won six out of their last seven games. This game is an even pick ‘em right now. The game total over-under is set at 213.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM PST from the Staples Center in L.A.
Oklahoma City brought in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in the off-season, and it looked like they could be making a run to the NBA title this year. Well, that hasn’t really been the case as those parts have not meshed well, and the Thunder find themselves fighting for a playoff spot, not really for an NBA title. There was reason to believe that this experiment might not work as all three of their Big-3 love to have the ball in their hands a lot. There is only one ball, they can’t all have it.
It looks like the answer might end up being that Anthony will just end up having to take a backseat to George and Westbrook. The Thunder are starting to figure things out, and with this much talent if they ever do completely figure things out they are going to be a really tough out in the playoffs. The Thunder ended the year on a bit of a weird skid, dropping home games to Milwaukee and Dallas, but seem to be back on track after blowing out the Lakers last night.
The Los Angeles Clippers hate not having Chris Paul. They have not found a suitable replacement at the point, and it has really hurt the team. The roster is flawed, and that is plain to see. But it’s not really fair to say that the Clippers 17-19 record is legitimate either, as they were also without superstar Blake Griffin for almost a month. Not many teams in the NBA could lose their two best players and be competitive, so I tend to give the Clippers a pass on what was a rough December.
The good news for the Clippers is that Blake Griffin is back, and they have gotten hot at the right time. The Clippers have won six out of seven games and are 3-0 since Griffin returned. He looks no worse for wear and has scored at least twenty points in each game. Lou Williams has also been explosive over this stretch of games off the bench for the Clippers as well. The journeyman guard is blowing up over the last seven games, averaging an absurd thirty a game over that stretch.
I think good times are ahead for both of these teams. The Thunder is finally starting to figure out what to do with their wealth of talent and the Clippers are finally starting to get healthy. For me, this game comes down to the grind that is the NBA schedule. The Thunder is playing back to back road games. And while this situation isn’t as grueling as some, back to backs on the road are still tough.
OKC blew out the Lakers last night and was able to rest the Big-3 for most of the second half. They also didn’t have to travel as they spent the night in L.A. So, this is not a typical back to back on the road. But that doesn’t change the fact that L.A. got the night off last night and is playing at home. The NBA is so much about effort and fresh legs, and I see the Clippers giving a little more of a push and being a bit more rested.
This line opened at OKC -2-points and quickly dropped down to -1 point, and is now at even. The sharps recognized the same thing that I did and jumped all over the number. An opening line won’t move that much, that quick, if the sharps aren’t backing it, so the bettors that know better are on our side. Give me the Clippers in a tough game that comes down to the last few possessions. I just feel that the Clippers won’t let the opportunity for a big win slip past then at home and will find a way to get the job done tonight.