OKC Thunder – LA Clippers series poses major matchup issues

Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers looks on in a game against the OKC Thunder. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers looks on in a game against the OKC Thunder. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images) /

Next up in the OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable TI writers consider the dynamics of a playoff series versus the LA Clippers.

Continuing the OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable series the writing team arrives at question 23. Unlike the prospect of facing the Jazz or Rockets, the LA Clippers are a different beast altogether.

Adding to the drama of this pairing is this iteration of the Thunder came about primarily based on Paul George requesting a trade to the Clippers this past offseason.

The resulting effect was the dismantling of a Thunder club led by two superstars and the launch of a new era with a closet full of draft picks, a cornerstone asset in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and two veterans (Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari) who debatably form the most well-rounded starting rotation in franchise history. One undebatable fact is the 2019-20 version of the Thunder are the clutch time killers of the NBA.

Still, the playoffs often require a primary superstar who can be relied on to score in the toughest moments and lead their team to victory. The Clippers, Kawhi Leonard has proven to be capable of that objective with two separate teams.

SGA isn’t at that stage yet (and may never develop into that type of superstar) and Chris Paul may be too far removed from his prime to be that individual. However, this Thunder team doesn’t quit and isn’t to be trifled with late in matches.

To that end, the Thunderous Intentions writing team examines the advantages these two teams would have over each other in a playoff series.

With that, I give you question 23 from the series…

Q23:  If the Thunder were to play the Clippers in a playoff series what are their greatest weaknesses and strengths the team would face?

Shontelle Matano:

Both the Thunder and Clippers are deep teams, boasting the sixth man of the year and All-NBA candidates on each side.

The Clippers have experienced injuries throughout the year which have prevented them from having all of their squad healthy at the same time. I think perfect health and chemistry will be a strength for OKC. They have clicked on and off the court and had more time to work with their different options and get everyone on the same page.

A weakness may be the fact the OKC Thunder is a young roster with less experience. When you look at the Clippers they have an NBA champion in Kawhi Leonard, an All-Star in Paul George and one of the great Coaches’ in Doc Rivers leading the way.

However, CP3 has guided his young team exceptionally well showing them how to win and has really changed the culture in OKC. So as we’ve seen anything is possible with Paul in charge.

Rylan Stiles:

The greatest strength against the Clippers might be their spacing and quickness when deploying their three guard lineup, but you would assume Paul George and Kawhi could handle that unit with ease.

The Clippers are the worse possible matchup for the OKC Thunder because the team has nobody to throw at Kawhi, and even the Clippers Morris twins prove a huge mismatch on the offensive end of the floor when guarded by Gallo.

Dustin McGowen:

The Clippers are built for the playoffs. They have recently refreshed their bench through the buyout market, adding Thunder enemy Reggie Jackson to the lineup.

Do you remember in Clash of the Titans when Liam Neeson says, “release the kraken?” That mythical sea creature is the Kahwi Leonard that is about to come out for the playoffs. This would not be good for the Thunder.

Matthew Hallett:

More from Thunderous Intentions

If the Thunder were to play the Clippers they would be in some trouble. In my opinion, when healthy, they are the best team in Los Angeles which makes them the best team in the West. The Clipper’s strengths are better than the Thunder. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are too much for any team to handle in the West.

Tamberlyn Richardson:

Of all the potential teams the Thunder could face the Clippers pose the greatest issues, particularly if OKC has to face them early.

Don’t let the statistical anomalies of the Clippers or certain players on the squad fool you. Between Paul George’s injury absences, Kawhi Leonard’s load management and Patrick Beverley missing time Doc Rivers has rarely had his best unit on the court simultaneously.

This team was built for the postseason and debatably has the most capable defense in the association.  Moreover, their depth allows for a variety of lineup shuffles all without losing much defensively.

The main areas of weakness would be the lack of playing time for their core unit, ball stoppage from the tendency to play iso-ball and playmaking. Still, the sheer talent of this squad and lack of a true stopper to deal with Kawhi Leonard on the Thunder makes them a formidable challenge.

The best hope for the OKC Thunder would be avoiding the Clippers as long as possible and even then they’d likely have to beat the Lakers first.

Hey, no one expected the Thunder to be relevant this season so winning the first round would surpass all expectations. But taking either LA team deep in a playoff series would allow the youngsters to gain experience and show Sam Presti which areas he should focus on when he starts building up the core.

Next. 30 x 30 roundtable Q22: Rockets first round series would be drama filled. dark

Wednesday the Thunderous Intentions writing team ponders what is more important keeping their draft pick or moving up the ladder.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy day.