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Preview: Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder Game 5

The Clippers look to take a 3-2 series lead with a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5

The Clippers travel to Oklahoma City on Tuesday for Game 5 of their second-round series against the Thunder.

It took a huge fourth-quarter run on Sunday for the Clippers to tie the series at 2-2.

A win on the road would give the Clippers a chance to close out the series at Staples Center on Friday.  A loss would put the team on the brink of elimination.

Key matchup

Everything is important in this series. The stars need to play well. The role players will make a difference.  Both teams need to execute on offense and defense.

While all that's true, the Clippers are especially reliant on Blake Griffin to carry the team's offense inside -- while the Thunder need Kevin Durant to continue pouring in points as one of the NBA's elite scorers.

Through four games, Griffin is averaging 24.3 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 47.1% from the field.

His field goal percentage is down from the regular season (52.8%), understandable with the Thunder are focusing their defensive efforts against Griffin.  Serge Ibaka has been tremendous all series for Oklahoma City.

Durant is at 33.3 points a night on 50.6% shooting with 7.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game.  His 40 points in Game 4 were nearly enough to put the Clippers behind 3-1.

X-factor

Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook are both elite point guards in the Western Conference, although they have different games.

Westbrook is more of an individual scorer while Paul is more of a true point, but both have been major factors in the series.

If Paul and Griffin cancel out Westbrook and Durant, the difference could be the role players.

On Sunday it was Darren Collison and Jamal Crawford for the Clippers.

Big performances from players like Caron Butler, Reggie Jackson and Ibaka could decide Game 5 in favor of the Thunder.

Outlook

The victor on Tuesday will probably win the series -- but it wouldn't be a shock if this one goes the distance to seven games.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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