Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 7:00 AM
You can’t watch an NBA TV game these days without seeing Blake Griffin car commercials, Chris Paul (and his alleged twin brother Cliff) selling insurance for those cars, Russell Westbrook pitching new pizza bread at a sandwich shop, and Kevin Durant starring in highlight reels that advertise shoes, soft drinks or whatever the next big thing is going to be. Won’t it be great Wednesday Night to see those stars on the court against each other!
It’s the Oklahoma City Thunder visiting the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday Night on ESPN in a game that will likely preview the Western Conference semifinals. Right now, OKC and the LA Clippers are battling for the #2 and #3 seeds in the West. Neither is going to catch San Antonio. Neither is going to get caught from behind by #4 Houston barring a huge surprise. So…if the Thunder and Clips can survive the first round…they’ll meet in the second. Wednesday’s game could play a big role in determining who will have home court advantage in that series.
Let’s run some numbers…
Oklahoma City: 107.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #7 in the NBA)
LA Clippers: 109.5 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)
These teams are loaded with offensive stars. Russell Westbrook missed some time with injury, so the Thunder have only managed a #7 ranking to this point in the season on this side of the floor. But, that may be a sign of things to come anyway because Westbrook comes and goes in playoff basketball. Some fans and handicappers don’t realize that the Clippers have such a consistently efficient offense. They know about Blake Griffin’s dunks. He’s added to his skill set this year (sometimes running the break himself!), and the team as a whole is very balanced in terms of inside/outside options. Viewers Wednesday Night are going to see two great offenses.
Oklahoma City: 100.8 per 100 possessions (ranked #5 in the NBA)
LA Clippers: 101.8 per 100 possessions (ranked #7 in the NBA)
For years here in the NOTEBOOK we’ve been emphasize that defense wins championships. Even though both of these teams have great offenses, they can also make a very strong case for defensive excellence. Defensive will win another championship if either of these teams goes the distance! Now, it’s possible that we won’t see that defense Wednesday Night. Both coaches may prefer to save the slugfests for later this month. It will be interesting to see if there’s a true playoff feel to Wednesday’s thriller, or if it’s just two teams playing it safe on defense while trying to outscore each other on offense.
Oklahoma City: #9
LA Clippers: #6
Both of these teams play fast entertaining basketball. Active point guards with Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. Fantastic finishers even beyond Griffin and Durant. This is going to be an exciting game. And, we’ll be in store for a great playoff series should both avoid first round upsets in the loaded West.
Against the Spread
Oklahoma City: 40-34-2
LA Clippers: 44-33-1
Well known teams…particularly those loaded with guys doing a bunch of TV commercials…often have trouble covering pointspreads. The market stacks the line against “public” teams. Well, these days, the public doesn’t bet much regular season NBA…and sharps are known to shy away from media teams like this because they don’t think there’s any value. There’s been value! Both teams are in the black. The Clippers are double digits over .500 entering the contest. Don’t YOU always assume that value doesn’t exist with high profile teams.
But, you can be SURE that value always exists with the programs available from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK! You can always purchase daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call our handicapping office weekdays during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to check on combination packages that feature both the NBA and Major League Baseball.
We’ll have another big game NBA preview Thursday when we look at San Antonio/Dallas on TNT. That could be a preview of the first round with Dallas, Memphis, and Phoenix currently fighting down at 7-8-9 in the ladder for the last two playoff spots. San Antonio is going to be the #1 seed, and will play a role Thursday in determine who they’ll face in the opening round.
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