The 2-0 Warriors own Los Angeles; defeat Lakers and Clippers back-to-back
The Bay reigns supreme over L.A. so far this basketball season.
The Golden State Warriors edged the Los Angeles Clippers 115-113 in Chase Center’s season home opener in San Francisco.
The final margin being that close came as sort of a surprise after the Warriors burst out to a 61-42 advantage in the second quarter, fueled by Stephen Curry scoring 25 points in the first quarter and hitting his first 10 shots.
I wasn’t too shocked that the Warriors lost their early momentum and found themselves clinging for life like a punch drunk boxer desperately clinching his opponent in the late rounds. This current iteration of the Dubs is unproven, despite employing the services of two living legends in Curry and Draymond Green.
And there’s something magically annoying about this damn Clippers franchise that continually pushes the Warriors. After all, the Clippers were the last Western Conference team to eliminate Golden State in a 7-game series. They’re also the same organization that made the biggest comeback in playoff history at the expense of the Kevin Durant-era Warriors. And their Coach Ty Lue did preside over the most shocking NBA Finals comeback ever against the 73-win Warriors.
We can’t forget that the Clips overcame two 0-2 deficits in last year’s playoffs to win their series, despite losing their superstar Kawhi Leonard during the grind. If any team knows how to unflinchingly absorb the special adversity that Curry Flurries and the roar of Dub Nation provide, it’d be the Clips.
But if anybody knows how to torment Lue and the Clips, it’d be one of the greatest 75 players in NBA history.
Steph can’t do it all…or can he?
Curry ended up with 45 points on 16-of-25 shooting (8-of-13 from beyond the arc), and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. But after that red hot first quarter, he shot 7-of-16 from the field with 5 turnovers as the Clippers unleashed Lue’s favorite anti-Curry defensive adjustments. They went small, picked up Curry full court with the young and athletic Terrence Mann (with plenty of grabbing involved), trapping him until he was forced to give up the ball.
(Can you believe Curry finished with a -2 plus/minus for the game? I think that means analytics are telling me that he’s HURTING THE TEAM.)
The Clippers took the lead at halftime and had control early in the fourth quarter in large part because the Warriors were getting physically bullied out of their offensive rhythm into bad passes and desperate paint forays that were gobbled up by L.A.’s opportunistic defenders. GSW finished with 21 turnovers as the free flowing possessions of the first quarter were stymied as the game progressed.
When L.A. blanketed Curry, they dared the other Warriors to navigate L.A.’s thicket of physical and intelligent defenders. Jordan Poole’s hype train took some bumps as he repeatedly struggled to crack the Clippers’ defensive shell. He shot 4-of-14 from the field with a hideous 7 turnovers, dribbling himself headlong into no man’s land.
Clearly the Clippers were just fine with Golden State’s “others” trying to create on their own, particularly Poole and Draymond Green. Green was forced to try and make something happen, repeatedly getting fouled on desperate attempts at the rim. Unfortunately he shot 2-of-9 from the charity stripe, emboldening the Clippers to force the offensive flow away from Curry.
Thankfully, Green kept finding ways to get the ball to Curry down the stretch for clutch daggers, and while Green didn’t punish the Clippers from the free throw line, he converted 4-of-5 from the field to pick apart the center of L.A.’s defensive strategy. Green finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and game high 7 assists.
Strength in Rebounds
The Dubs are 2-0 this season in the rebounding battles, something some members of Dub Nation vocalized some concern about prior with the center rotation thin. They had five players with at least six boards last night:
Curry - 10
Kevon Looney - 7
Otto Porter Jr. - 7
Nemanja Bjelica - 6
Andrew Wiggins - 6
Green - 6
To do that against a physical Clippers team a game after beating the giant Lakers on the boards may lend some credence to the idea that this team knows how to get after missed shots as good as any team in the league.
The Clippers don’t go away easy
The Clippers are fearless! They can attack the rim with reckless abandon, shoot triples with arrogance, and Paul George is a bonafide star. He led L.A. with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists.
This team is going to be hella hard to beat once Kawhi Leonard returns; they have the pieces in place to control the game from multiple facets. If the Dubs run into this squad down the road in the postseason, it will be an epic battle per usual for these Pacific Division rivals.
Buoyed by Curry’s hot hand, the Dubs shot 15-of-31 from beyond the arc. That means to start the season, Golden State is 29-of-70 from deep, good enough for 41.4% percent shooting. For reference, the Clippers led the league in 3PT% last season at 41.1%. Am I saying the Warriors are going to be tops in long range accuracy this season based on two games? Well if Damion Lee keeps putting dude’s eyes out like this…
Then yes, absolutely. Just wait till they get Klay Thompson back!