I said it in the series preview, and I’ll say it again. If the Thunder defense does not bring their A-Game against the #1 offense of the regular season, the Clippers will light them up. Don’t believe me? Look at the Clippers point totals from the first 3 quarters of Game 1: 39, 30, & 35.
Honestly, how do the Thunder expect to win games if their defense goes AWOL for the first 36 minutes? Chris Paul’s 32 points led all scorers to take the floor, but it wasn’t just the point total that was so astounding. It was the fact that his 32 points came off of 12-for-14 (85.7%) shooting, including 8-for-9 (88.9%) from beyond the arc. That’s just insane efficiency. He definitely had the hot hand in that game. Not only that, but his 10 assists gave him a double-double. Blake Griffin added 23 points, J.J. Redick added 12 off of 5-for-8 (62.5%) shooting, and Jamal Crawford added 17 from the Clippers bench, shooting 6-of-11 (54.5%). The only two double-digit scorers for the Clippers that shot under 50% were Griffin, who’s 23 points came off of 7-for-16 (43.8%) shooting, and Matt Barnes’s 10 points off of 4-for-10 (40%) shooting. Either way, every player to score double-digits for the Clippers shot 40% or better. That type of efficiency from Thunder opponents rarely translates to a Thunder win.
Plus, where was the bench scoring for the Thunder? The Thunder rarely, if ever, win games without at least one person coming off of the bench to score double digits. The starters who scored double-digits were actually quite efficient in their scoring. Kevin Durant’s 25 points came off of 9-for-19 shooting (47.4%), Russell Westbrook’s 29 points came off of 9-for-14 shooting (64.3%), and Serge Ibaka’s 12 points came off of 6-for-9 shooting (66.7%). But no bench players reached the double-digit plateau. Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III each scored 8, but that was in garbage time, when the game was pretty much already decided.
Tonight’s game will have another 8:30 pm CST tip-off, and the Thunder will look to have their recently named MVP player go off tonight. The thing is, he will need help from his teammates, especially on the defensive end. The Thunder do not want to head to Staples Center down 2-0. Tonight’s game will be featured at the back-end of TNT’s double-header, and will also be broadcast via WWLS The Sports Animal.
(Side note: This may be my final post, as I’ve been picked up as a staff writer for Mark Bruty and Thunderous Intentions, which is part of the Fansided network. I still have to go through the initial setup, but I’ll let everyone know when and where they can catch me next. For those of you who have been loyal readers to this point, I sincerely do appreciate your support.)