After just one meeting thus far this season, the Thunder and Clippers are about to get mighty cozy.
That's because the Western Conference's current No. 3 and No. 4 teams will play three times in March as they battle it out for, essentially, the right to avoid the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs.
The Clippers (39-20) are still without Blake Griffin as he continues to heal his broken hand. Griffin was in Norman last night for Oklahoma's game against Baylor. Griffin's No. 23 jersey was retired in an emotional ceremony in front of his family and a sold-out crowd.
Los Angeles has actually played quite well without Griffin, partly thanks to improvement from the wing positions. The Clippers are 26-7 over their past 33 games and will have a mighty different look since the last time these two teams tangled back on Dec. 21. Long gone are Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith as Los Angeles cut bait on those experiments. In their place is former Thunder forward Jeff Green, whom the Clips acquired from Memphis prior to the deadline.
The Thunder (42-18) is coming off of a 131-116 scorching of the Kings on Monday night. Another Russell Westbrook triple double helped Oklahoma City avoid its fifth loss in six games. It's a good thing they won it, too, because now starts one of the hardest back-to-backs imaginable.
Los Angeles is just two games back of OKC in the loss column and knows that a win on Wednesday could help matters immensely. But the Thunder can't use up all of their gas on Wednesday because 24 hours later they have another date with the NBA's new overlords, the Warriors.
Tip time from Staples Center isn't until 9:30 p.m. CDT. Sleep is overrated, anyway.