Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers (-1, 220.5 o/u)
The Oklahoma City Thunder (42-18, 17-10 Away) have to be careful not to get caught looking ahead. A rematch with the Warriors looms on Thursday night, but a tough tilt at the Staples Center with the Los Angeles Clippers (39-20, 20-10 Home) is on tap first tonight (10:30 PM Eastern).
The Thunder have lost four of six since the All-Star break, but still sit third in the uber-competitive Western Conference and have showed flashes of brilliance. They should have beaten Golden State on Sunday, but bad clock management and an inspired Steph Curry sent them to a 121-118 OT loss.
OKC bounced on Monday by smashing the Kings in Sacramento, 131-116, led by a triple-double from Russell Westbrook (20 points, 15 rebounds, and 13 assists). Kevin Durant added 27 points.
The Thunder are eager to face the Warriors again, but can’t look past a Los Angeles team that continues to surge despite the absence of power forward Blake Griffin. The Clippers are just 2.5 games back of the Thunder for third in the West and have won two straight (over Sacramento and Brooklyn) and three of four.
Chris Paul has led the way with Griffin out, averaging 19.9 points and 9.6 assists per game He scored a season-high 40 points against Sacramento and added 23 in the win over Brooklyn.
Tonight’s game will be the second meeting of the season between the Clippers and OKC. The Thunder took the first meeting, 100-99, in LA in December. Westbrook led the way with 33 points, but LA covered the spread as a two-point home dog.
Both teams can score the basketball. OKC averages 110.3 points per game, second-best in the league, while the Clippers average 105.0 (seventh-best). The Clippers have played well without Griffin, but their lack of front-court scoring options will hurt them tonight against the prolific Thunder. Take OKC, which is 5-1 ATS in its last six road games against the Clippers, to notch the win and cover.
Pick: Thunder (+1).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)
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