NBA Preview: The Clippers and Thunder are two teams looking to find their way early in the season.
Los Angeles Clippers (5-5) at Oklahoma City Thunder (4-7), Friday, 9:00 p.m. EST
Line: Thunder -6.5. Total: 209.5.
When Carmelo Anthony was traded from New York to Oklahoma City, Paul George proclaimed that the Thunder now have a championship team. The prognosticators were saying the Thunder could be a top 4 team in the Western Conference. Oklahoma City was projected to win 48 games this season.
The Thunder have some work to do if they are to live up to those lofty expectations.
OKC routed the Knicks in their opener on October 19 and it looked like the Thunder were well on their way to being a contender in the West. However, the Thunder have gone 3-7 since then and have lost their last four games.
The Thunder are struggling mightily against Western Conference teams, which is a problem since they reside in the West. Oklahoma City is 0-6 against the West and 4-1 against the East. While every talking head on television talks about how much better the West is over the East, the numbers do not bear that out at the moment. The Western Conference teams only have 3 more wins than the Eastern Conference teams. However, as the season progresses, that margin is likely to grow wider.
When LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwayne Wade to form the Big 3 in Miami for the 2010-11 season, they struggled to stay above .500 early in that season. The Heat started 9-8 before they hit their stride, winning 12 straight and 21 of their next 22 games.
So this Big 3 in OKC and their fan base needs to have some patience while this team figures it out. Russell Westbrook is going to have to take fewer shots so Melo and George can be more involved in the offense. Time will tell whether they can work it out.
The Clippers traded Chris Paul to Houston over the summer. Prognosticators projected the Clips to win about 43 or 44 games this season. Los Angeles started fast out of the gate as they won their first four games. However, they have gone 1-5 since then and sit at 5-5 on the season.
Blake Griffin is being asked to carry a bigger load this season. Although without Paul in the Clippers backcourt, that burden may be too much for Griffin to carry.
The Clippers traded for Danio Gallinari a week after the Paul trade to Houston in what looks to be a nice addition on the surface. However, the oft injured Gallinari will be missing his second game of the season already on Friday with a strained left glute. Gallinari has missed at least 19 games in each of his last three seasons and missed the entire 2013-14 season due to injury.
Coach Doc Rivers has a lot of new players on his Clippers roster this season. So it looks like both these teams have a lot to figure out as the season progresses.
Clippers: Austin Rivers is questionable with a mild ankle sprain. Gallinari is out with the strained left glute. Patrick Beverley is out with a sore right knee. Jamil Wilson is out with lower back spasms. Milos Teodosic is out with a plantar fascia issue in his left foot. Thunder: There are no injuries to report.
19-9 (regular season), +$910.
#1 Sides: 16-8
#1 Totals: 18-6
Edit, 5:05 p.m. EST:
Orlando Magic -3.5, laying $110 to win $100 – The line is 3.5 at four of the five sportsbooks I glanced at. There are a couple of very public plays on the board tonight. This is the play I agree with the public on. The Suns won four of their first five games with their new coach, covering the Vegas spread in all five of those all games. Phoenix has lost and not covered the spread in their last four games. This is still a chart-play to fade Phoenix. Orlando has Elfrid Payton back and they won and covered their last game against the Knicks as he had 11 points and 11 assists in the victory. The Magic are 3-2 on the road straight up, while Phoenix is 2-4 at home straight up.
Sides: (1) Orl, (2) OKC, (3) Por, (4) Chi, (5) Cha, (6) Milw, (7) Atl, (8) Utah
Totals: (1) OKC un, (2) Chi ov, (3) Por ov, (4) Atl ov, (5) Cha un, (6) Utah un, (7) Orl un, (8) Milw ov
Other thoughts: I may be betting Oklahoma City, too, as they had a closed door meeting after their nationally televised loss to Denver last night. The Thunder have lost four straight and are in major bounce-back mode, while the Clippers are banged up and struggling. I will post it here if it does become a play.
Fantasy spreadsheet: Fantasy Sheet
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