Mar 3, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) and Oklahoma City Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet (34) fight for a rebound at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder Head To Staples Center To Play The New-Look Clippers

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After five wins against non-playoff teams from last year, the Thunder will finally play a contending team tonight in the Staples Center.

If that scares you, here’s some good news: the Thunder don’t have to defend Bradley Beal tonight.

But, they do have a tough task in defending one of, if not the, best offensive teams in the league tonight. Here are a few notes and such:

Clippers coming into the game: Monday night, they survived in a thriller with the Timberwolves, 109-107. They are one of the league’s worst (27th) in points allowed at 106.4. Although, they do lead the league in scoring at 109.9 points a game. Matt Barnes recently returned to the lineup for Los Angeles. The Clippers had one of the most active offseasons by adding Doc Rivers to lead them at head coach, and adding pieces such as Darren Collison, Antawn Jamison, J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. Overall, the Clippers have been inconsistent, as they are 5-3 with losses against the Lakers, Magic and Heat.

What to look for from the Thunder:

Defense. Can the Thunder play an all-round solid defensive game? As stated before, the Clippers lead the league in points per game. So, this Oklahoma City defense has a pretty good challenge at hand.

Control the glass. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan make up one of the better front courts in the league. Should be interesting to see if Ibaka, Adams, and Collison can contain both of them on the block and limit their activity. This is a game where the Thunder will miss Kendrick Perkins due to his defensive toughness. Perk is not playing tonight due to his grandfather’s death.

Key matchup: Russell Westbrook vs. Chris Paul. What more can you ask for?

Bold Prediction: The Clippers are coming off a good win on Monday, and the Thunder haven’t really been tested much this year. Tonight will be the first real test for the Thunder. On national TV, in the Staples Center, don’t be surprised to see an up and down, close game with many big runs. If the Thunder can guard the perimeter and hold the Clippers to under 30 percent from deep, they should be able to win this one. Thunder by three in a thriller.

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Tags: Los Angeles Clippers Oklahoma City Thunder

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