Game Preview: Clippers look to keep home Streak alive Against Thunder
STAPLES Center is officially “home sweet home” for the L.A. Clippers.
Winners of their last four, the Clippers (17-19) will host the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-17) on Thursday, looking to extend their recent winning streak and win their seventh straight on their home floor.
Technically, the Clippers have won eight straight at STAPLES Center, having defeated the Lakers in a “road” game on Dec. 29. Semantics aside, L.A. is one of the hottest teams in the NBA over the past 13 games, going 9-4 in that timespan.
Only the Golden State Warriors ( 11-2 ) and Toronto Raptors ( 10-3 ) have a better record in their last 13 games.
In addition, the Clippers’ four-game win streak is currently tied for the longest in the NBA with Boston, and they now sit just 1.5 games out of the seventh and eighth Western Conference playoff spots and 2.5 games out of the sixth.
“We want to make the playoffs,” guard Lou Williams said after Tuesday’s win. “But we’re in a good rhythm right now. We’re playing really well. We just want to keep going, keep going with the momentum.”
Due to the Clippers struggles with injuries early this season, the playoffs seemed like a long-shot. After suffering an MCL sprain in his left knee in a Nov. 27 win over the Lakers, Blake Griffin was sidelined for 14 games. In addition, guard Patrick Beverley (knee) was lost for the season after playing in only 11 games, forward Danilo Gallinari (glute) has missed 25 games, including 12 straight, and guard Milos Teodosic (foot) has missed 24 games so far.
Currently, guard Austin Rivers is sidelined with a sore right Achilles and listed as day-to-day. Lastly, guard Lou Williams and forward Wesley Johnson have missed at least one game with foot injuries.
But in recent weeks, the Clippers fortunes have done a proverbial 360. Griffin returned last Friday against the Lakers and is averaging 23.3 points, 6.3 assists and 6.7 rebounds in three games. Teodosic returned to the rotation on Dec. 11 and has averaged 9.6 points and 5.6 assists in 10 games played. And highlighting the Clippers’ recent success has been the play of Williams, who is averaging 30.8 points and 4.8 assists over the last six games.
The Thunder come into Thursday’s tilt having ended a two-game skid with a dominant 133-96 victory over the Lakers on Wednesday night. OKC’s “Big 3” of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony combined to scored 65 points on an efficient 27-for-45 from the field.
Westbrook, last year’s NBA Most Valuable Player, is averaging 32.7 points, 10.7 assists and 11.7 rebounds over the last three games.
Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.