OKLAHOMA CITY – Entering their 11th game of the season, the Clippers are already in historic territory for the franchise.
Their 8-2 record matches the 2005-06 Clippers for the best start in team history and they have opened the season 3-0 on the road for just the second time ever (1996-97).
Wednesday night, in the midst of a six-game winning streak and the second game of a four-game swing through four states and two time zones, the Clippers will be presented another stern test, this time against the Oklahoma City Thunder (8-3).
The defending Western Conference champions have won two in a row and seven of their last eight, and while they may still be in the stage of adjusting to life without reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden, Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro is quick to point out they still have plenty of firepower.
“The bottom line is: it starts and ends with Kevin [Durant] and Russell [Westbrook]” Del Negro said. “[Serge] Ibaka’s improved a lot, and [Kendrick] Perkins rebounding, and [Nick] Collison and they have [Eric] Maynor back, so they have their nucleus back and they’ve had success with those guys at a high level. We’ve got to be locked into Kevin and locked into Russell, but not let the other guys hurt as well.”
Clippers small forward Caron Butler, who would draw the first crack at guarding Durant, is listed as a game-time decision after leaving Monday’s win over the San Antonio Spurs with a strained right shoulder.