Pros and cons to Thunder potentially playing Clippers in the second-round

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers
Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

The OKC Thunder took care of business against the New Orleans Pelicans during their first-round matchup and completed their second sweep in franchise history. By besting NOLA in four, the Thunder will get to rest until Tuesday, May 7, while they await their second-round opponent in either the LA Clippers or Dallas Mavericks.

Though the Mavs currently hold a 3-2 series lead heading into Friday night's bout, considering the star power LA possesses there's still a fighter's chance that they beat the odds and wind up winning this quarterfinals series in seven.

We at TI have already looked at the pros and cons of squaring off against Dallas in a second-round affair. Now, we look to the pluses and minuses of facing the Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Pro: The Clippers are not healthy

The Clippers are a different team with Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. However, his surgically repaired knee began flaring up late into the regular season and during this year's playoff run, forcing him to sit out for all but two games during their series against Dallas and, in turn, is slated to remain in street clothes for Game 6 on Friday.

Even if he does return in a hypothetical matchup against the Thunder, he likely wouldn't be at 100 percent strength, and Leonard being hampered alone is a great reason to want to face LAC.

Con: The former Thunder trio could be hungry vs. their old team

Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and James Harden all played for Oklahoma City in the past. Given their history with the club, they could be extra motivated to send their former team packing. For Westbrook, it would mark the second time he eliminated the Thunder in the playoffs since he departed. However, this may not be much of a concern because this trio is also historically inconsistent in the postseason.

Pro: The Clippers will not be able to guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

The player on LA best equipped to guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is Kawhi Leonard, but, due to his health leaving his availability unknown, the Clips do not have a great second option in this department. George will need to cover Jalen Williams while Harden is still a defensive liability and would likely be on Josh Giddey, so that leaves Westbrook to cover SGA.

Though Westbrook has shown promising production on the defensive side of the ball as of late, chasing around a younger, faster, and craftier Gilgeous-Alexander is a tall task for even the league's most elite defensive specialist.

Con: Ivica Zubac will dominate

The Thunder were fortunate to avoid Zion Williamson in the first round because Jonas Valanciunas alone gave them fits. Facing better bigs will be an issue regardless of whether they face the Clippers or Mavericks, but the 7-foot, 240-pound Ivica Zubac is worth mentioning because he will have the opportunity to have a big series if they meet the physically impaired Thunder in round two.

Pro: The Thunder have the advantage on the bench

Mark Daigneault is proving to be the best head coach in this franchise's history, and, moving forward, it appears there are not many coaches he can go toe-to-toe with. Again, regardless if they face Ty Lue's Clippers or Jason Kidd's Mavs Oklahoma City will have the coaching advantage.

This pro is oh so refreshing, because for so many series in the past their opponent had the coaching edge.