The Thunder open an intriguing three-game road trip in Los Angeles against the Clippers tonight. Here’s a little pregame primer:
What: Thunder at Clippers
Tip: 9:30 p.m. CT
Line: Clippers -4.5
Three things to watch
-Steven Adams’ first start: Tame it down, Thunder fans. Scott Brooks hasn’t made a permanent move in his starting lineup. The Kiwi Robot will almost undoubtedly take over OKC’s starting center spot at some point in the future, but for now he’s just filling in. Kendrick Perkins is away from the team because of a death in the family. But regardless, it’ll be a nice test for Adams. He’ll get big minutes against the Clippers hyper-athletic frontline of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Biggest area of concern for the rookie: Stay out of foul trouble.
-Three-point shooting: To this point, the Thunder’s lack of effective outside shooting (27 percent from three, 28th in the NBA) hasn’t hurt much. But it might the next two nights. The Clippers and Warriors, especially at home, can light up the scoreboard. They average 109.9 and 103.9 points, respectively. You’re gonna need to hit some threes to keep up. Particularly, the shooting spotlight may fall on Thabo Sefolosha, who last year made a career-high 108 threes on nearly 42 percent shooting, is just 3-of-19 from deep in six games.
-Welcome to the show: Jeremy Lamb against Jamal Crawford. Steven Adams facing DeAndre Jordan. Reggie Jackson with some minutes against Chris Paul and, on Thursday, Steph Curry. The early results have been promising for the Thunder youngsters. But those were minor quizzes. The next two nights equate to a cumulative midterm test.
X-Factor – Russell Westbrook
In big road games against tough opponents, Russell Westbrook has historically taken it upon himself to provide an early energy and scoring boost. We know the energy won’t be a problem. It never is (plus, he’s in his hometown one day after his 25th birthday). But the overall scoring punch may not be there yet. Since his return, Westbrook’s shooting 33 percent, including a combined 9-of-35 the past two games. His explosiveness is there, his touch still looks a bit rusty.