Skip to content

NBA Playoff Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Apr 18, 2014, 9:15 AM EST

Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, David Lee, Chris Paul Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, David Lee, Chris Paul

REGULAR SEASON RECORDS

Golden State Warriors: 51-3, six seed
Los Angeles Clippers: 57-25, three seed

KEY INJURIES

Andrew Bogut, Golden State. He has a fractured rib that has him out indefinitely, certainly for the start of the series and, if reports of the severity of the injury are to be believed, likely all of it. This is bad for Golden State — their defense is two points per 100 possessions better when he plays (going from elite to just pretty good) and their offense improves by 4.5 per 100 when he plays. That’s 6.5 points per 100 better when he is on the court, and he will not be on the court. Their other starting four with Jermaine O’Neal playing for Bogut has looked good this season but only played 62 minutes together, and now Hilton Armstrong and Marreese Speights will need to have huge series for the Warriors to have a chance.

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possession)

Los Angeles Clippers: Offense 109.4 (1st in NBA), Defense 102.1 (7th in NBA)

Golden State Warriors: Offense 105.3 (12th in NBA), Defense 99.9 (3rd in NBA)

THREE KEYS TO THE SERIES

1) Can David Lee slow Blake Griffin? David Lee does not have the reputation of a defensive stopper. To put it kindly. Yet matched up on Blake Griffin this season he has had surprising success — Griffin has shot just 38 percent in the 21 minutes they were matched up this season (according to the NBA’s SportsVU camera data). Griffin had a breakout season, the kind of year that’s going to earn him some MVP votes (bottom couple spots on the ballot of five, but still). He needs to carry that over to the playoffs for the Clippers to be the contenders they think they are, if David Lee can neutralize him it would be huge for the Warriors. Also, Lee could see some time at the five if the Warriors try to go small ball on the Clippers for stretches and then his defense becomes even more important. Look for Draymond Green to get a lot of time on Griffin as well (especially if Lee struggles).

2) Warriors three point shooting vs. Clippers defense. The Clippers were the best team in the NBA at defending the three point line this season, allowing opponents to shoot just 33.2 percent (this was one of the biggest changes from the Vinny Del Negro era, the Clippers were 26th in the league last season). Yet Stephen Curry had success against the Clippers this season, hitting 17-of-29 (58.6 percent). With Bogut out and the Warriors playing more small ball (and their defense suffering because of it) Curry is going to need to be in video game mode, as is Klay Thompson, and they are going to have to rain threes as a team on the Clippers to win the series. They are capable of that for a game or two, but can they do it consistently?

3) Chris Paul vs. the world. Chris Paul is the best point guard in the game today, the best game manager yet a guy capable of taking over games, and he averaged 28 points a contest against the Warriors this season. He carved up the Warriors in their meetings, with Klay Thompson often drawing the defensive assignment. CP3 not only got around Thompson (a pretty good defender) but also got Thompson in foul trouble at times. Doc Rivers did a masterful job this season convincing Paul that the Clippers are better when he gives up the rock a little more and trusts his teammates to make plays, but this could be the exception to the rule — an aggressive Chris Paul could and should own this series.

PREDICTION

Clippers in five. Maybe six, the Curry/Thompson combo can get hot for a couple games. This is going to be one of the most fun series to watch because there is real bad blood between these teams — expect one fight by Game 2. They hate each other, plus there is that whole Nor Cal/So Cal rivalry added in. With Bogut in the lineup the Warriors starting five gave the Clippers fits (+19.2 per 100 possessions), but the struggled without him this season and in this matchup (-15.9 per 100 when he sat vs. Clippers, via John Schuhmann of NBA.com). For the Warriors to have a chance they will need monster series from Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green — the small ball strategy is going to have to thrive. I just don’t think it will, not enough to win four of seven games. This is a series where one injury changes everything.

  1. tomasekradek - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    I can’t see Clips in five. With that impressive record Warriors have, 51-3, they are clear favourites to me and shoud sweep LAC without even tiny drop of sweat

    • adamsjohn714 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      Two of those 3 losses did come against the Clippers, though. But with that reduced schedule, the Warriors should be much more rested. It’s tricky.

    • Zammael - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      51-3. That’s the most impressive record I’ve seen since the 1995-96 Bulls started 46-3.

      But yeah. The Clippers’ size will overwhelm the Warriors without Bogut controlling the interior.

      Clippers in 5 or 6.

    • robsaia - Apr 18, 2014 at 7:10 PM

      No way Dubs sweep the Clip Show. With Bogut out, they win one or two games (maybe none).

  2. phillysports1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    With bogut out , clippers in six .

  3. aboogy123456 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    The biggest mismatch of this series is off the court, coaching. Mark Jackson might be one of the worst coaches in the league, and Doc knows how to prepare his team and adjust for playoff matchups very well. I think it can be entertaining, but with the bogut injury I think it’s a sweep.

    • duhwighthoward - Apr 18, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      How were the Golden State Warriors before Mark Jackson became coach?

      I’ll help you out with this one: they made the playoffs just once in 18 years.

  4. jvw1982 - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    This series scares me as a Clippers fan, hate to play a guy like Curry in the first series……Doc has to have these guys ready to play some D…..

  5. jerdogthompson - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    @kurt

    This is by FAR the most poignant article I’ve seen you write. Well articulated and very accurate. I’m amazed the GS fans still think they have a shot at this series, all because they beat Denver last year. The Clippers are not in any sense of the word a semblance of Denver. I guess that’s why fan is short for fanatic. Keep believing warriors, keep believing. I will be at the games cheering the eventual victor.

    #InDocwetrust

    • lukiss0023 - Apr 20, 2014 at 12:34 AM

      Sup? Cliff Paul is the Peyton manning of basketball best regular season point gaurd…#indocwetrust doc is a overrated coach always has always will sorry man but I hope ur just a bandwagon clipper fan and a really a laker fan cuz the clippers are never gunna win a title…

  6. lakerade - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Warriors in 6.

  7. robsaia - Apr 18, 2014 at 7:16 PM

    Don’t be surprised to see O’Neal mix it up with Griffin. If O’Neal or Green can throw him off his game, or get him kicked out of the game, the Warriors might be able to inch out a 7-game series. Otherwise, the loss of Bogut will hurt too much.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Who will land Josh Smith?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (8333)
  2. K. Bryant (7562)
  3. K. Martin (6355)
  4. J. Smith (6306)
  5. C. Bosh (6286)
  1. K. Leonard (6113)
  2. D. DeRozan (5316)
  3. T. Parker (5247)
  4. A. Bogut (5226)
  5. T. Jones (5223)