Thunder to beat up on thin Clippers?

 Thunder to beat up on thin Clippers?

While stopping short of waving the white flag of surrender, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has no qualms about entering tonight’s battle with the Thunder in a decidedly undermanned state.

Having essentially locked itself into the Western Conference’s No. 4 spot, Los Angeles will let multiple star players take in the action from the sideline. As a result, oddsmakers at online sports book BetDSI list Oklahoma City as a 15.5-point favorite.

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Following Wednesday’s 99-79 rout of Minnesota, Rivers announced his intention to rest Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Reddick this evening. The Gregg Popovich-style move makes sense, insofar as the Clips are facing their fourth tilt in five nights. Los Angeles (47-27) also trails OKC by 4 ½ games for third in the West with eight remaining on the schedule.

The Thunder (52-33) attempted a similar strategy on Tuesday, deliberately putting Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka on the pine in Detroit. It backfired mightily, though, as Oklahoma City scored a season-low 82 points. Russell Westbrook had a particularly woeful showing with 8-of-28 shooting and three turnovers.

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Nevertheless, Billy Donovan’s workhorses won’t mess around against the shorthanded Clippers. Look for a repeat of what occurred when these two squads last met at Chesapeake Energy Arena on March 9. Durant, averaging 31.4 points over his last 11 matchups vs. Los Angeles, went for 30 and 12 rebounds in that 120-108 OKC triumph. Westbrook notched one of his NBA-high 16 triple-doubles, too, with 25 points, 11 boards and a career-best 19 assists.

In general, the Thunder physically manhandled the Clips then. Since Jordan is being preserved tonight, the host team’s advantage on the glass stands to careen completely out of control. Bank on at least three quarters of sheer domination from Oklahoma City’s peerless duo.

THURSDAY NBA FREE PICK: OKLAHOMA CITY -15.5

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