Oklahoma City is right where many people expected them to be. After losing to the Miami Heat in last year’s NBA Finals, the Thunder have been the top team in basketball, winning 32 of their first 41 games. OKC hasn’t been fazed by the trade of James Harden to start off the year.
The Clippers' start has been much more of a surprise. While the club was expected to be good after their best regular season in franchise history, L.A.’s 32-10 start has exceeded most predictions. They lead the Lakers by 14.5 games in the Pacific Division, who began the season as the favorites in the conference.
Now, the two teams will face off to claim the top spot in the West. The Thunder will visit the Clippers at 10:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday night. You can watch a live stream online by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband.
It’s the second matchup between the two teams this year. In November, the Clippers lost an overtime contest in Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 35 points in the 117-111 victory.
There’s a good shot Durant will lead the game in scoring, once again. He recently surpassed Kobe Bryant to become the league’s leading scorer at 29.5 points per game.
Durant has been mentioned as a possible MVP candidate, and one of his main competitors might be on the Clippers. Chris Paul’s 9.7 assists per game lead the team, and his 2.6 steals average is first in the league.
Paul will be forced to guard perhaps the best point guard in the West, besides himself. Russell Westbrook is averaging a career-high 8.3 assists per game, and putting up significantly more points per contest than Paul (23.0)
Even on the road, the Thunder are favored. They are giving the Clippers 1.5 points at most Las Vegas casinos. The two teams are tied at 13-6 for the best record away from home.
Prediction: The Thunder maybe the athletic team in the league with the combination of Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. L.A. however can keep up with them with Paul and Blake Griffin. Oklahoma City is the highest-scoring team in basketball, but Los Angeles only allows 93 points per game, and should pull out the win in front of their home fans.
Prediction: Los Angeles 104, Oklahoma City 103