Clippers vs. Thunder: How the playoff teams match up

The Clippers just barely escaped a storm that threatened to pull them under because of all that swirled around them while they were in the midst of the forces.

And now the Clippers are about to enter the face of an even stronger storm in the form of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It took seven games for the Clippers to get by the Golden State Warriors, the final game Saturday a classic for its intensity and pressure-filled moments in the win-or-go-home contest at Staples Center.

But the Clippers survived, winning the series, 4-3. And they even survived, for now, the ongoing drama that is the Donald Sterling controversy of him being banned by the NBA and being forced to sell his team because of disparaging remarks about African Americans.

Next up for the Clippers will be playing Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Monday night.

The two teams split the four-game regular-season series, both winning a game on the other's home court.

The Thunder also survived a first-round seven-game series with the Memphis Grizzlies, winning Game 7 at home.

"It'll be interesting to see what kind of pace the game will be on Monday, I think for both teams," Clippers guard J.J. Redick said. "But we'll get our rest and we'll figure it out."

Here is a matchup breakdown of the two teams:

Starting guards: Chris Paul and Redick against Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Caron Butler. Paul is considered the best point guard in the NBA and Westbrook the most athletic point guard in the league. Redick and Butler both are at their best moving without the basketball.

EDGE: Even.

Starting forwards: Blake Griffin and Matt Barnes against the Thunder's Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. It'll be fun to watch the reportedly soon to be NBA most valuable player in small forward Durant and MVP candidate in power forward Griffin. Durant led the league in scoring during the regular season, averaging 32.0 points per game. He averaged 29.9 points per game in seven playoff games against Memphis. Ibaka is a really good defender and shot blocker. Barnes will have the task of trying to slow down Durant.

EDGE: Thunder.

Starting centers: DeAndre Jordan and Kendrick Perkins. Both are really good defenders, though they do it differently. Jordan is active, blocking and altering shots. And he rebounds and runs the floor better than most centers. Perkins uses his strength and smarts to defend players down low.

EDGE: Clippers

Benches: Jamal Crawford, the NBA's sixth-man-of-the-year winner, and Darren Collison were the only productive reserves for the Clippers against the Warriors. Oklahoma City has gotten good work from Reggie Jackson, Nick Collison, Steven Adams and Derek Fisher.

EDGE: Even.

Coaches: Doc Rivers won an NBA championship in Boston in 2008 and lost to the Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals. Plus, he has guided the Clippers during their most difficult time in dealing with the Sterling saga. Thunder Coach Scott Brooks took the Thunder to the 2012 NBA Finals, where it lost to the Miami Heat.

EDGE: Clippers

Intangibles: Paul's health. He has been dealing with a sprained left thumb and an injured right hamstring; Westbrook. Will he defer some to Durant or take volume shots?

EDGE: Even

PICK: Thunder in 7. Game 7 would be in Oklahoma City.


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