In what is the most intriguing series of the second round the Los Angeles Clippers are level with the Oklahoma City Thunder, 2-2, after a closely run 101-99 victory in the Staples Centre. With Game 5 happening this evening in Oklahoma City, it is likely to be a decisive game.
According to the bookmakers the Thunder are slight favourites to take the game and indeed the series as they currently hold home court advantage, with two games left in Oklahoma City as opposed to only on in Los Angeles. You can view now the best odds at Sportbet.com
A key stretch in the game four came in the final minutes when the 6’3” Chris Paul was guarding the lengthy, 6’11” MVP Kevin Durant. As Durant ran off multiple screens Paul was able to stick with him, denying him the opportunity to catch the ball in any position around the key ultimately forcing him to take the ball out near the three point line, with 7 seconds left on the shot clock. The possession ultimately ended with a miss and the Clippers, behind an unlikely crunch time hero in Darren Collison pulled out a tight victory. The Thunder need to be able to exploit Durant’s significant size advantage if the Clippers choose to use Paul on him, and the impetus must be on coach Scott Brooks to facilitate this. Whether it’s through finding him space in the low post or using Durant’s height and length to simply shoot over Paul.
The Clippers have been led in scoring by Blake Griffin in this series, but it is his fellow big man, DeAndre Jordan who will have to step up his game if the Clippers are to pull out a series victory. Jordan has failed to score over 10 points in any of the four games this series, and it has definitely looked like his team are better off with him on the bench.
Realistically the Thunder should be looking to win on their home court against the Clippers, especially as they have as yet looked unconvincing in the playoffs, and are yet to show themselves as the championship contenders that their talent level should dictate. But as in previous years their biggest obstacle seems to be their head coach and Brooks’ inability to find innovative alterations to his line-ups and schemes. This is of special importance against a coach such as Doc Rivers, who can make seamless alterations both in-game and between games. Whatever happens in game 5 this series looks set to go down to the wire.