The Thunder are favored by five points for the opening game of the series, with the O/U opening at 211.5 but now trading at 212 at most sportsbooks. Have sportsbooks left any doors open for our NBA picks tonight?
Oklahoma City Thunder
It's rather remarkable how many ups and downs each of the remaining playoffs teams have gone through. Well, maybe except for the Miami Heat.
The Thunder were in danger of getting eliminated by the Grizzlies, but they came out swinging in Game 6 and then finished the job back in front of the home fans in Game 7. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook came up huge, putting the team on their backs en route to the series win.
Seemingly the criticism was a motivator for that dynamic duo. They had gotten flak for their poor shot selection early on in the series, with some critics urging them to get others involved as much as possible.
Durant and Westbrook responded like the true superstars they are. On the brink of elimination, KD had 36 and 10 in Game 6 and then 33 and 8 in the deciding Game 7, while Westbrook averaged 27.3 PPG, 11.3 APG and 9.7 RPG over the last three contests in the series. They were both phenomenal when it mattered most.
Matching up with the Clippers, however, is going to be a challenge. Chris Paul is as good as it gets and Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have been powerhouses inside. Throw in a ton of perimeter shooters and you can see why LA has had so much success this season.
Los Angeles Clippers
It's been an incredibly trying time for the Clippers, who have had to deal with one of the biggest and most unfortunate distractions in NBA history.
Credit Doc Rivers for keeping the team focused on the task at hand. They were matched up with a motivated and very talented Warriors team and, despite getting pushed to the deciding Game 7, Los Angeles survived to see another day.
Paul, as usual, was a terrific leader on both ends of the court, Griffin was a force to be reckoned with and Jordan was a menace inside and on the glass. The role players did their job and ultimately the Clippers were too much to handle for Golden State.
An even bigger test awaits in the next round. How will the Clippers contain Durant? Will CP3 be able to outplay the more athletic Westbrook? Can Los Angeles buckle down defensively when necessary?
We'll get some early answers to those questions tonight. The Clippers have been here before though, so you'd be foolish to count them out despite not having home-court advantage.
The playoffs have been incredibly tough to predict so far and we don't expect that to really change in the next round. There are sure to be some more crazy and unexpected twists to come.
For Game 1 in Oklahoma City, however, we do see the favorites holding serve and covering the four points in the process.
The Clippers had a hard time finding their groove on the road in the first round and we think KD and Westbrook know how important it will be to protect their home-court advantage. We expect Durant to come out and be aggressive early, setting the tone for a hugely important victory for Oklahoma City.Free Pick: Thunder -5 (and slight lean on OVER)