Oklahoma City Thunder Stat Monkey Brief: Thunder/Clippers (11/21/12)
Editor's Note: Want to check out the Clippers side of the story and how they look to take down the Thunder? Click here!
After taking care of business over the last two games, the Thunder welcome to town the team with the best record in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers. The two teams have similar records, and it is no surprise based on the numbers. They are two of the best at shooting and shot defense as well as getting to the line. Even their deficiencies are the same, as they are the two worst teams in turnover percentage.
Threes could be Key
The Thunder do not usually take a lot of threes, ranking 18th in the NBA in three pointers attempted. However, it is not enough to take away the paint and mid-range game from Oklahoma City. When the team has to take threes, it drains them with a lethally efficient percentage of .435, the best in the game. The Hornets can attest to that after getting burned by the Thunder for 14 threes last week. The Clippers boast the third-best shot defense in the NBA with an effective field goal percentage allowed of .461 but are in the bottom half of basketball in three point defense. If the paint is locked down, Oklahoma City should have no qualms about kicking the ball outside.
Thrilling Start for Martin
A huge reason why the Thunder have been so successful from deep range is Kevin Martin. Although his scoring is down from his career average, Martin boasts a .703 true shooting percentage (a measure of a player's combined shooting from two and three point range, as well as the free throw line). That is the best number in the NBA, well ahead of second place Ray Allen at .688. Granted it is still extremely early, but if Martin can keep that pace up, he will be only the third player in NBA history to eclipse a true shooting percentage of .700 for a season. The other two - Tyson Chandler last season and Artis Gilmore in 1981-82 season - were both big men who took a lot of high percentage looks. Martin takes a lot of lower percentage shots (he is currently 15th in three pointers attempted) and is still scoring as efficiently as anyone in basketball.
Martin would love to help the Thunder prove that they are still kings of the Western Conference, but the Clippers seem poised to challenge Oklahoma City. Whatever the outcome, tonight we get the first taste of what should be an extremely important series this year.