map / getOrElse is standard in all the Scala code I've seen. Abstracting over the monad is also a pretty big win that has made some big refactorings painless for me. Pattern matching is really only used by beginners IME.
Clarity comes from familiarity. It's not an objective measure.
The speed benefit is well known, as is the corollary, premature optimisation. I expect checking for null is even faster if speed is the main concern. It's an engineering tradeoff, just like making the abstraction to a monad (or monad plus). In the normal course of events I'm more concerned about flexibility than performance and would prefer the abstraction.