Los Angeles Clippers Looking To Close Gap On Oklahoma City Thunder

The Los Angeles Clippers will look to make it three wins from three as they host the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Staples Center tonight, in a huge top-of-the-conference clash. OKC's average run of form has seen their comfortable conference lead over the Clippers slashed, and a win for the hosts tonight would see the fight for third very much up for grabs. The Thunder will hope to make it back-to-back wins, especially as they travel to the face the Golden State Warriors tomorrow, who haven't lost in 43 consecutive home games.

Last Matchup

The Thunder and Clippers have only faced each other once this season, back in December. Oklahoma won that night, just, in a narrow 100-99 victory in Los Angeles. Russell Westbrook scored 33 that night, whilst Steven Adams got a game-high 11 assists. The Clippers' Chris Paul got an impressive 32 points and 10 assists on the night, but it wasn't enough to get his side a victory. 

The two teams last met before this back in March 2015, with the Clippers winning that matchup 120-108.

Recent Form

Since returning from the All-Star break, the Thunder have lost four of their six games, including a deflating last-second defeat against Stephen Curry's Golden State on the 27th of February. Oklahoma have also lost to the Eastern Conference leaders, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in a 92-115 drubbing. Their only consolation in this run was their impressive victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night. The Thunder still sit at impressive 42-18 for the season, but have a record of 5-5 from their past ten games. 

Meanwhile, the Clippers have won four of their six games since returning, including an electrifying 105-86 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, who sit second in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles side have beaten fellow Pacific Division teams the Phoenix Suns and the Kings over the last week too, and sit at 7-3 from the last ten games. Overall, they boast a 39-20 record for the season.

Both the Clippers and the Thunder have lost to the Warriors within their last five games. Credit: Sean M. Haffey/AFP Photo.

Key Players

The Thunder will undoubtedly look to their golden partnership of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant tonight, with the duo's form being the key to Oklahoma's success. Durant has been his side's top scorer in all bar three games for this entire calendar year, and has averaged 27.9 points per game this season. Westbrook is one of only two players in the entire NBA this season to average more than 10 assists per game, and has grabbed nearly 15 assists on average in his last six games. He has 24.3 points per game this season on average too, the seventh best in the NBA.

The Clippers will look to DeAndre Jordan, the NBA's second highest average rebounder with 14.0, to keep out the Thunder's impressive offense, whilst they will look to both Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford offensively. Paul has been the Clippers' top assister in every game since Christmas day, and has averaged 9.6 a game this season. Crawford has been the side's top scorer in three of the Clippers' last five games.

Injuries

The Clippers are still without Oklahoma born Blake Griffin, but it is reported he is 'very close' to returning. Austin Rivers is still out with a hand injury, but 38 year-old Paul Pierce is available, having played 22 minutes against the Brooklyn NetsLuc Richard Mbah a Moute is doubtful.

The Thunder boast a clean bill of health.

Tip-off is at 7:30 PM P.T.

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