NBA Western Conference Semifinals Game Six: Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers

2014 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Semifinals Game #6

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder at #3 Los Angeles Clippers
Thunder Lead Best of Seven Series 3-2
Thursday, May 15, 2014, 10:35 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Staples Center – Los Angeles, California
Opening Line: Los Angeles -4 1/2
Current line: Los Angeles -4 1/2
Opening Total: 213
Current Total: 212 1/2
Opening Money Line: Clippers -200 / Thunder +170
Current Money Line: Clippers -190 / Thunder +165

The Clippers look to avoid elimination in game six against the Thunder Thursday night.
The Clippers look to avoid elimination in game six against the Thunder Thursday night.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers have each blown double leads on the road in the last two games of the Western Conference Semifinals. In game four, Oklahoma City had a 16 points lead with 9 minutes to go and were on the verge of taking a 3-1 series lead. However, the Clippers came back and won 101-99. With the series tied 2-2, the teams went back to Oklahoma City for game five Tuesday night. The Clippers had a 13 point lead with just over four minutes to go, but the Thunder came back to win 105-104.

Now, they go back to LA for game six Thursday night. A Thunder win would send them back to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in the last four seasons. A Clippers win would force game seven Sunday in OKC. The San Antonio Spurs who dispatched the Portland Trail blazers last night in five games, await the winner.

In game five Wednesday, for three quarters Oklahoma City appeared to be suffering from a hangover from the game four collapse. Los Angeles took a 34-25 lead at the end of the first quarter, and would lead by 6 at halftime. The Clippers would lead 80-74 going into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, LA would take a 101-88 lead with 4:13 left. They would not score again until Blake Griffin made one of two free throws with 1:07 left. The Clippers grabbed the offensive rebound and took a 104-97 with 49 seconds left on a Chris Paul jumper. The wheels fell off for the Clippers after that though, thanks to a variety of factors like some questionable officiating calls, some poor decisions by the Clippers on both ends of the court, and some clutch shots by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for the Thunder.

Durant had a horrible shooting night, going only 6/22 from the field. However he came up big scoring 10 of his 27 points in last 3:23 of the game. He also had 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Durant scored 5 straight points to pull the Thunder within 104-102 with 17 seconds left. On the inbounds pass, Chris Paul turned the ball over. Thunder guard Reggie Jackson drove to the hoop, but had the ball knocked out of his hands. No foul was called, and replays showed the ball was last touched by Jackson. However, after looking the officials gave the ball back to Oklahoma City which enraged Clippers coach Doc Rivers. With six seconds left Russell Westbrook took an ill-advised three, but was fouled by Paul. Durant sat on on the other end of the court unable to watch as Westbrook buried all three free throws to give OKC the one point lead. Paul had the ball stripped at the other end of the court and it looked there was some contact. However, no foul was called as the Thunder escaped with the win to take control of the series.

Westbrook had a sensational game with 38 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. He carried the Thunder while Durant struggled. No other Thunder player had more than 9 points. Blake Griffin had 24 points and 17 rebounds for the Clippers. Jamal Crawford scored 19 points off the bench. Paul finished with 17 points, 14 assists, and 4 steals. J.J. Redick and Matt Barnes each had 16 points.

Oklahoma City is coached by Scott Brooks. OKC is 48-42-3 ATS and the total is 49-44 this season.

Oklahoma City is outscoring teams 106-100 this season. The Thunder are #5 in scoring and #12 in points allowed. OKC is shooting 47.1% from the field and 36.1% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #6 in field goal percentage and #14 in three point shooting. Oklahoma City is second in  the league in free throw shooting at 80.6% from the line. Opponents are shooting 43.6% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #3 in opponents’ field goal percentage. Oklahoma City averages 44.7 rebounds per game and opponents average 40.9 per game. The Thunder are #7 in rebounding and #3 in rebounds allowed. OKC averages 21.9 assists, 15.5 turnovers, 8.2 steals and 6.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 21.8 assists, 15.1 turnovers, 8.3 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.

Forward Kevin Durant is the first player to win MVP and the scoring title in the same season since Allen Iverson in 2001. In the playoffs he is averaging 29.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. Until games six and seven of the Memphis series, Durant struggled with his shot. Point guard Russell Westbrook averages 25.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 8 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He is playing some of the best basketball of his career as well since he returned from knee surgery in late February. Forward Serge Ibaka averages 13 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1 assist and 2.6 blocks per game. Ibaka was second in the league in blocks.  Guard Reggie Jackson averages 12.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Forward Caron Butler, acquired at the trade deadline from the Milwaukee Bucks, averages 7.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1 assist and per game. Jeremy Lamb, Thabo Sefolosha, Derek Fisher, Nick Collison, Perry Jones, Kendrick Perkins, and Steven Adams will also get significant minutes in the rotation. Fisher is questionable with a shoulder injury.

Los Angeles is coached by Doc Rivers. The Clippers are 50-43-1 ATS this season and the total is 51-42-1 this season.

LA is outscoring teams 108-101. The Clippers led the league in scoring during the regular season and were #14 in points allowed. Los Angeles is shooting 47.4% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. The Clippers are #3 in field goal percentage and #22 in three point shooting. LA is #26 in free throw shooting at 73% from the field. Opponents are shooting 44.1% from the field and 33.2% from 3 point range. The Clippers lead the league in 3 point defense and are #5 in opponents’ field goal percentage. Los Angeles averages 43 rebounds per game and opponents average 43.7 per game. LA is #25 in rebounds allowed. The Clippers average 24.6 assists, 13.9 turnovers, 8.6 steals and 4.9 blocks per game. Opponents average 23.3 assists, 15.4 turnovers, 7 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

In the playoffs, Griffin is averaging 23.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He is an Oklahoma City native and played his college ball at the University of Oklahoma. Point guard Chris Paul averages 17.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3.1 steals per game. Paul led the league in assists and steals during the regular season. He battled a sore hamstring during the whole series against the Warriors, but is listed a probable for game one against OKC. Guard Jamal Crawford averages 16.7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. He was named the NBA sixth man of the year last week. Guard J.J. Redick averages 14.3 points, 2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Guard Darren Collison averages 9.6 points, 1.4 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Center DeAndre Jordan averages 12.1 points, 15.1 rebounds, and 4 blocks per game. Jordan led the league in rebounding and was third in blocks per game.  Forward Matt Barnes averages 8.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Danny Granger, Glen Davis, Jared Dudley, and Willie Green will also get significant minutes. Forward Hedo Turkoglu is questionable with a back injury after missing the last seven games.

Oklahoma City is 3-0-1 in road games and against teams with winning home records, 4-1 after scoring 100 points or more and after the opponent allows 100 points or more, 3-1-1 after failing to cover, 5-2 against teams with winning records, overall, against Western Conference teams, and against Pacific Division teams, 5-2-1 on one day rest, and 3-7 in conference semifinal games. The underdog and road team are both 6-1 ATS in this series recently. The Thunder are 5-1 ATS in the last six at the Staples Center against the Clippers.

Los Angeles is 3-7 ATS in conference semifinal games, 2-5 overall, against Western Conference teams, after the opponent allows 100 points or more, on one day rest, and after scoring 100 points or more, 4-11 against teams with winning records, 2-6 against teams teams with winning road records, 1-5 after allowing 100 points or more, and 0-4 after a cover.

Each team has won on the road in this series, so home court doesn’t really matter. These teams are so evenly matched , that anything could happen in this game. Still, I think the Clippers win a close game at home to force game seven.

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