May 11, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) race toward the ball in game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder Threats: The Los Angeles Clippers

The NBA is always looking for a new team to rise up and dethrone the reigning champs. We saw the Heat become the face of the NBA in recent years, but now that the “Big 3″ is over the league needs a new team to take their place.  Now everyone is already throwing the crown to the Cavs, yet the team has never played a game together.  Instead, look for a young and proven team to take over the top spot.  You might be wondering exactly who that team could be; after all, there’s a handful out there that are ready to take the leap.  Look no further than the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Now I believe that the Thunder are poised to be the new kings of the NBA.  They have been together for a while, have a great core of players, and bring a certain playing style that the league loves.  However, the Clippers proved that they are not far behind.  Last year’s playoff match up between the Thunder and the Clippers turned out to be one of the more exciting ones of the postseason.  Fans were treated to a 6 games series full of comebacks, big plays, and physicality.  After a dramatic and controversial ending to the series a few things became obvious: the two teams aren’t exactly fans of each other, they are both young and explosive, and each wants to take over the league’s top spot. Now let’s look at why the Clippers could turn out to be the Thunder’s biggest threat this upcoming season.

Post Play

It’s no secret that the Thunder struggle in the post.  While Serge Ibaka has proven to be one of the better shot blockers in the league it still doesn’t help stop both of LA’s athletic big men.  Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are arguably the most athletic post duo in the league.  Ibaka is capable of shutting down one of the two, but they have to rely on a committee of other bigs to worry about the other.  Uness the Thunder can find out a way to match the athleticism of LA in the paint, they can expect to have a hard time down low.

The Point Guard Match Up

Since he arrived in the league, Chris Paul has been one of the NBA’s dominant point guards. He has proven himself to be one of the greatest passers and leaders in recent memory. There aren’t many teams out there that have a point guard on par with CP3, but the Thunder actually do. Russell Westbrook can go toe to toe with any guard in the NBA. Usually he has the advantage in any match up he faces, but not when it comes to the Clips. It’s true that CP3 and Westbrook have a completely different style of play, but both create a great opportunity for their team to win. Look for the point guard match up to be one of the deciding factors when these teams meet.

Stopping The MVP

Everyone knows that Kevin Durant can put up an insane amount of points on any given night. Very few teams have a defender with the ability to shut him down. If the Clippers can find someone with the defensive ability of a Tony Allen to cover Durant then they might have a chance to control the tempo of the game. However, if they can’t find a way to shut down the reigning MVP and Scoring Champ then look for the Thunder to come out on top.

If last season’s games between these two teams were any indication, then we are in for an amazing regular season series this upcoming season. These two will play each other tough and physically. Look for the games to get a little testy as the season progresses. Both teams have championship goals set and they just might meet in the postseason again. If so, then we could be in for one of the best playoff series for a second straight season. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the winner of the OKC/LAC match up goes on to win it all.





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