NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, May 5th
(All times Eastern)
(3) Los Angeles Clippers (0-0) at (2) Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0), 9:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two teams in the headlines will do battle in the Western
Conference semifinals when the Oklahoma City Thunder host the Los Angeles
Clippers in the series-opener Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
For the second-seeded Thunder, "Mr. Unreliable" became something of a rallying
cry. The Oklahoman ran that headline describing Kevin Durant, who will
probably be handed the league's MVP award before a home game during this
Durant responded with 36 and 33 points in the final two games against the
Memphis Grizzlies, both double-digit victories for OKC in elimination games
during the first round.
"He's one of the best players on the planet," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks
said of his superstar. "He's going to continue to help us win games and move
us forward, not only with his shot-making, but his playmaking."
Sadly, the Clippers' headlines were of a much more serious tone during the
first round against Golden State.
Their owner, Donald Sterling, was caught on tape making racist comments. It
affected the team in its Game 4 loss, then, before Game 5, NBA commissioner
Adam Silver banned Sterling for life and prompted the Board of Governors to
force Sterling to sell the team.
Through this tumultuous time, the third-seeded Clippers hung on for a Game 7
win over the Warriors.
"I just wanted us to win the game," said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. "Not
because of all of this stuff, but this team just needed this win. I thought
our guys fought. The adversity, they went through it. It drained them and they
found enough energy to find a way to win the game."
Each team features two superstars.
For the Thunder, Durant averaged 29.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and
1.6 blocks against the Grizz. Granted, Durant shot 44 percent and 32 percent
from 3-point range, which are low numbers by his standards.
Russell Westbrook averaged 25.6 points in the Grizzlies series, but he took 23
shot attempts a game, which was the same number as Durant. Westbrook shot 38
percent from the field and committed 4.9 turnovers per game.
For LA, Chris Paul is the leader and scored 22 points and handed out 14
assists in the Game 7 victory. Blake Griffin blossomed into a well-rounded
And special mention to Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan, who averaged 12.1
points, 15.1 rebounds and 4.0 blocks against the Warriors.
During the season, the two squads were evenly matched. The Thunder have won
five of the last seven meetings, but the two sides split four games this
season and each team managed a win on the road.
The Thunder were eliminated in this round last season by the Grizzlies when
Westbrook got hurt in the first round against the Houston Rockets.
The Clippers have never advanced past the second round in franchise history.
Game 2 will be Wednesday night in OKC.
05/05 10:35:41 ET