By Randy Renner
One of the biggest questions for Thunder fans going into tonight’s game with the Clippers was answered a short while ago by head coach Scott Brooks who is putting Thabo Sefolosha back into the starting lineup tonight and putting Caron Butler back on the bench, at least at the start of the game.
“Caron did a good job while he was in there, but this is a different style of team,” Brooks said. “Thabo’s strength is defense and (J.J.) Redick’s strength is first quarter scoring.” Redick will start at shooting guard tonight for the Clippers.
Perimeter defense in general will be big for the Thunder. The Clippers shattered their franchise record for made 3-pointers in a playoff series with 67 against the Warriors. Their old record was 43 also in a seven game series.
Brooks also said forward Nick Collison will be back in the rotation tonight after not playing in Game 7 against the Grizzlies. When the Grizz went small Collison really didn’t have anyone to guard so that’s why he didn’t get on the floor. He will have ample opportunity tonight to share time going up against Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
One of the big questions for the Clips is the health of point guard Chris Paul. He’s been bothered by hamstring and thumb issues but at shootaround today Paul said he was “good” and that he didn’t expect to be limited tonight against the Thunder.
Overall, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers told reporters, “We’re pretty good (health-wise) Chris looks good. He’s moving pretty good. He played a lot of minutes the other night and came out of it well.”
Forward Hedo Turkoglu remains out for them due to a hairline fracture in the transverse process in his lower back. He sustained the injury in Game 5 against the Warriors on April 29th and has not played since.
“They say day-to-day but I don’t know what that actually means,” Rivers said. “Just watching him move he’s not going to play in either of the first two games that’s for sure.”
Rivers said both teams may be a bit tired having just come off seven game series but he didn’t think the Thunder would be even more fatigued because of the four overtime games they played against Memphis.
“No, I don’t think it does anything to those guys, has Westbrook ever even been tired?” he asked chuckling.