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Warriors get crushed 130-104 by Clippers and learn more about Wiseman's will
Questions abound regarding the future of Golden State's second unit.
There’s something about this Golden State Warriors-Los Angeles Clippers rivalry that consistently reveals critical narratives about the Bay Area’s basketball franchise.
Back in 2014, it was the heated first round series between the two clubs that exposed the limitations of the GSW offense and subsequently led to the firing of Coach Mark Jackson.
In 2018-2019 there was the epic sideline blowup during an overtime loss to the Clippers between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant that KD would later cite as part of his motivation for leaving the dynasty.
And later in the first round of that season’s playoffs, the bored defending champion Warriors would blow a 31-point lead to the Clips, cementing fears that the team was sleepwalking through the season (read the comments lol).
And don’t forget the Clippers were the first team to face the Post-KD Warriors (minus Klay Thompson). They disrespectfully and emphatically declared that the Warriors’ time atop the mountain was officially terminated.
Last night L.A.’s nationally televised 130-104 stomping of the Dubs was yet another opportunity for our Pacific Division rival to put GSW’s problems on front street. Let’s get into rookie James Wiseman’s on/off court maturation, the Warriors inability to find bench player consistency, and the frustration of superstar Stephen Curry.
Wiseman’s getting the tough love
Okay so Wiseman apparently missed Covid-19 tests over All-Star break and couldn’t participate in practice because the league has strict protocols on this kinda stuff. Wiseman owned up to his bonehead mistake, but forced Coach Steve Kerr’s hand in handing down some disciplinary action. This resulted in Wiseman getting benched for the first three quarters of the Warriors’ blowout defeat before going on a spirited tear in garbage time.
In the long storied history of Warriors players not adhering to league protocols and being disciplined for it, I’ll slot the rookie’s infraction far below “Sprewell Chokes His Own Coach” and “Monta Ellis MopedGate”. But in a season where all eyeballs are glued to him in a second-by-second examination of his game and his potential…there is simply no room for this young man to be less than professional. And I’m sure he’s aware of that.
The franchise needs him to soak up every ounce of practice time during a season bereft of a training camp and preseason. If the Dubs are going to maximize what’s left of this season and extend the Splash Bros era, the 19-year old rookie will have to grow up at an accelerated pace.
I’m sure it burned Wiseman to watch from the bench while his teammates were ripped apart by a Clippers team that flipped their notoriously mercurial focus on in terrifying fashion. L.A. punished the Warriors deep in the paint with vigorous impunity.
When Wiseman finally was released from his punishment to start the fourth quarter the game was out of reach. Yet he took the Staples Center floor with a vengeance, demonstrating an impressive stretch that hinted to why the Warriors passed on Lamelo Ball to take him with the #2 pick of the 2021 draft.
I keep hearing Chris Bosh comparisons in our LGW Slack and I’m really starting to see the resemblance in playstyle. Wiseman looked pretty smooth with that jumpshot in a way that makes me think whoa this guy fancies himself to be a legitimate shooter. If he can shoot like that in the playmaking space that Curry and Draymond Green create, that could be a deadly option.
It would have been super awesome if he was balling like that before the game was completely dead in the water because of the Clippers onslaught, because that reserve unit needs a savior.
More questions about the bench arise
The game actually seemed competitive in the first quarter of basketball for these teams after the All-Star break, with the Clippers taking a 28-26 lead into the second period. Then, with 10 minutes remaining in the 2nd, a Wiseman-less bench unit took the floor and self-destructed. Jordan Poole, Nico Mannion, Eric Paschall, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Kelly Oubre Jr. got outclassed by a Clippers unit running a shackling 2-3 zone.
The Dubs unit couldn’t figure out how to generate ball/player movement to penetrate the swarming Clippers net. With their aggression neutered, Golden State’s offense was reduced to desperate heaves from afar. Here’s the shot chart for their time on the floor as a 36-30 Clipper lead ballooned to 48-35 L.A.:
This unit also committed five fouls in less than two minutes. That’s a lot of whistles in a short time span; the aggressive Clips were in the penalty bonus before the halfway mark of the period:
The Clippers would take their dominance over that 2nd unit and stretch it over the course of the game, frustrating the face of the franchise Steph Curry.
It all makes Curry wanna holler
As far as sideline pump-up messages go, this was about as intense I’ve seen Curry in a long time.
I do wonder how much of it was to try and get himself going as well, as he struggled to 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting (1-of-8 from 3PT range). This must have been a trip for Curry to see so much defensive pressure after galavanting through All-Star festivities last week. Two other All-Stars play for the Clippers in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and I’m pretty sure they had Curry’s name circled in extra red ink in the gameplan after seeing him set the world on fire last Sunday.
We’ve seen Curry have rough games where he presses for momentum but can’t quite get his rhythm. But with the team’s record falling to 19-19 amidst a four game losing streak, games like this are extra painful to witness as the clock ticks louder on this team’s playoff dreams. He’s at the height of his powers and yet this Scotch-taped team is clawing for wins; yep that’s hella frustrating.
Of course, we all knew this would be a tough year when Klay Thompson suffered his second straight season ending injury. Still, who wants to get blown out by a Clippers team doing stuff like this to your neck:
These are the trenches of NBA warfare, with Utah up next. These Dubs better ice up and get their rest in, because it ain’t getting easier any time soon.