Preview: Thunder vs. Clippers - 12/18

The Thunder closes out its four-game homestand with a rematch against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. OKC will enter the game well rested following a two-day break between contests. The team’s last game came on Wednesday night where OKC fell to the Pelicans 113-110 in a heartbreaking finish.

What to Watch

Thunder Bench Shines The Thunder’s second unit scored 52 points against the Pelicans on Wednesday behind the season-high 17-point performance of Kenrich Williams and 16 from veteran big man Mike Muscala. Williams cashed in a career-high-tying five 3-pointers in the contest. The effort marked just the second time this season where OKC has logged two players with 15 or more points off the bench and the third time the reserves have scored 50 or more points.

“Just having those guys come in, being able to come off the bench and being so prepared for every situation, it means a lot to us,” said Thunder rookie Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

Free Throw Differential Throughout the season, one of the hallmarks of the Thunder’s defense has been its ability to defend without sending its opponents to the free throw line. As a result, OKC ranks second in the league in opponent free throw attempts and fifth in free throw attempt differential. Meanwhile, the Clippers have held its opponents to the 5th lowest free throw attempts per contest this season. Keep an eye on how the Thunder works to get to the foul line while also keeping the Clippers away from it.

“It's something we have our eye on every night,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “From an efficiency standpoint, there's really nothing more efficient in the NBA than a free throw trip. And so we want to be a team that limits, we want to be physical, obviously, but we want to limit fouls that are cheap, and that put teams on the line. “

48-Minute Mentality Over its last two contests, the Thunder has gotten out to strong offensive starts averaging 25.4 points and shooting 43.8 percent from the field in first quarters. However, the last time the Thunder faced the Clippers back in November, the team fell in the fourth quarter following a dramatic game of runs. Maintaining that energy and execution for a full 48 minutes will be key in this one as the Clippers tout strong weapons on both ends of the floor.


Thunder reserve big man Mike Muscala, known for his efficiency off the bench, logged his 16 points against the Pelicans in a matter of just 14 minutes. In a testament to his readiness as a reserve the effort marked the third game of the season where Muscala has scored more points than he’s played minutes. His highest scoring effort took place in San Antonio where he poured in 20 points in 14 minutes and 11 seconds.

“He's putting so much work in here on practice days, on days off that he's probably one of the most prepared players I've been around,” said Thunder rookie Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. “So just seeing when he goes out there and hits three threes off the bench, has a dunk, has another layup, it's not surprising because he's just so prepared for every situation.”


Jeremiah Robinson-Earl on the competitiveness in practice following the close loss to New Orleans… “We just come back every single day and just attack it the same way. Coming out here competing trying to get better individually and as a team. We have our next game, we just go out and compete at a high level.”

Scouting Report

The Clippers (16-13) also enjoyed a two-day respite since its last contest on Wednesday. In that game, Los Angeles fell to the Jazz 124-103 on the road. Prior to that matchup, the Clippers had won five of its previous six contests. LA has been without its leading scorer and seven-time All Star Paul George due to a right elbow sprain. In his absence, the Clippers have had three players averaging 16 or more points per night with Reggie Jackson leading the way with 19 points per game. However, in its last matchup on Wednesday, it was Marcus Morris Sr. who led LA in scoring with 24 points on 10-of-20 from the field.