By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com
In its season finale, the Thunder take to Crypto.com Arena for the second-straight game – this time to take on the Los Angeles Clippers. As the season comes to a close, the Thunder continues to prioritize minutes to its young players – allowing them to step into extended opportunities on an NBA floor.
WHAT TO WATCH
Loads of Minutes, Loads of Experience – The Thunder has prioritized minutes for its young additions to its roster. In its last game against the Lakers, five Thunder players finished the game having played 43 or more minutes. With three 10-day signees and two two-way players on the roster with just one game remaining, OKC has prioritized opportunities to its youngest and newest additions. Expect another extended opportunity for players such as Jaylen Hoard, Melvin Frazier Jr., Zavier Simpson and Georgios Kalaitzakis in OKC’s last game of the season.
Path to the Paint – Despite a host of new players in its lineup, the Thunder’s style of play has remained intact. The team’s emphasis on paint touches and putting pressure on the rim is still a core fixture to OKC’s offense. In fact, against the Lakers on Friday, the Thunder poured in 64 points in the paint which ties for the third most all season. The team has now logged eight games this season with 60-plus paint points.
LAC for 3 – Keep an eye on the Clippers’ 3-point shooting in this one. Since the All-Star Break, L.A. has shot at a 39.5 percent clip from behind the arc – the second-highest mark in the league. Leading the way for the Clippers over that time frame has been newly-acquired Robert Covington and Luke Kennard who have shot 49 percent and 45 percent from deep respectively – both top-10 marks in the league.
In the Thunder’s last game against the Lakers, rookie 10-day signee Georgios Kalaitzakis registered a career-high 24 points. The Thunder has now had six rookies log 20-plus point performances this season alone which is the most in the NBA since the Chicago Zephyrs in the 1962-63 season.
The Clippers, who have secured a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament, will close out their season against the Thunder on the second night of a back-to-back. For the year, the Clippers are 5-8 on the second game of back-to-backs.
While the Clippers rank second in the league in 3-point percentage since the All-Star Break, they also shoot the midrange at the fourth-highest rate in the league. Paul George leads the Clippers in scoring with 24 points per night. LA’s 3-point shooting is headlined by Luke Kennard and Robert Covington who have shot 45 and 49 percent from three since the All-Star Break – both top-10 marks. Big man Ivica Zubac holds down the paint for the Clippers with his 10-point, 8-rebound contributions each night.