Clips come out fast and annihilate the Warriors to the tune of 115-89.
What did you expect?
Besides LeBron James, Kevin Durant and maybe Carmelo Anthony, there is no better player in the world right now and he proved it. It isn't often that you can tangibly identify someone's "killer instinct". As fans, we spent years wondering if LeBron had it. "Was he too passive in the fourth?" "He shouldn't have given it up!" Those are phrases easily confused with the lack of a killer instinct. In Paul's case, everyone on the court and in the stands knew what he was trying to do tonight, and the Warriors were helpless to stop it.
Trying not to turn this postgame recap into a Chris Paul eulogy, we can take from this game one trend to watch out for the rest of the season.
It is how the Warriors start to play when they get the opposing team's A-plus game day in and day out. So far this season, some of the Dubs wins have come when the other team has, for lack of a better term, taken them rather lightly. Now this isn't to say that the Warriors start is fluky, it isn't. The defensive renaissance and improved play from David Lee has been the root of the success and should not be undermined by faux psychological analysis from yours truly.
However, it was obvious that Paul and the Clippers came into this game ready, despite the grueling slugfest they played against the Lakers the night before. Now that the Warriors are becoming more well-known around the league (thanks Bill Simmons), they won't be able to sneak up on teams the way they may have done in the beginning of the season. With Memphis, Denver and San Antonio on the schedule, it will be interesting to see how they battle back from this shellacking.
Paul averages 12.2 shots in 33 minutes this entire season but he took it upon himself to absolutely humiliate the Warriors on both ends of the court, from shooting 10-12 in just 28 minutes and throwing off-the-backboard alley-oops after steals. When he wasn't nailing step-back threes from every spot on the court, he was busy jawing at the Warriors bench.
No one. Let's not try to force this one here. Not happening.
The game was...not fun, so I'll keep the observations short and sweet.
1. The game got so bad in the second half that the commentators, Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett, started to gush about the Warriors team chemistry and how they watch movies together. Then they proceeded to rev up the All-Star train for David Lee and Stephen Curry. Can't blame them too much. What else was there to talk about? Another ill-advised Jeremy Tyler spin move turnover?
2. From the beginning you knew this would not turn out well when the Warriors couldn't at least keep it a close game because if they had, they might have been able to steal the latter part because of the tired legs of the Clippers. Paul had played 41 minutes the night before, and everyone knows the end of the game comes down to his ability to break his defender down off the dribble or the pick-and-roll. Starting 0-9 from distance certainly didn't help. Guess everything does average out, huh?
3. Couple of thoughts on the rotation and as always, Harrison Barnes. Draymond Green seems to be getting less and less minutes as his shooting percentage is falling by the wayside. It's great that he hustles and can play a little defense but if he can't shoot, he is a borderline NBA player.
It appears that Coach Jackson is starting to run more plays for Barnes as he drew up two isos for him at the beginning of the game. The more Barnes is comfortable, the more space it opens up for shooters like Klay and Curry. However, he still hesitates on open jumpers and driving lanes, perhaps not knowing how open he is or how easily he can blow by most defenders.
The commentators noted on one over-the-head blind pass from David Lee that Bogut would have caught it and dunked it home. Not really sure if he would have been able to—the pass was ill-advised as he was cut off on the baseline with no dribble—but they were right about Bogut's presence providing a boon to the offense, and especially spacing.
I have no problem with the Clippers doing what they did, up 30 late in the game. The Dubs got hammered and humiliated. That's what happens. You can't always have Kent Bazemore laughing on the bench about Blake Griffin in every game. Matter of fact, percentages will point out that's pretty unlikely to happen at all. The season series favors the Dubs 2 -1 and the last meeting is on January 21. That should be fun.
It's easy to chalk this up to a bad game and perhaps a superior team in talent. The upside—depending on how you look at it—is that the Warriors will get their opponent's best the rest of the season. When was the last time we could say that?