Let's start this one off with a simple declarative statement: A losing season is impossible for the Warriors.
Tonight's game features the two best guards in the league, if you don't consider LBJ a guard. It features the two best pairs of rebounding bigs in the league. It features teams on two of the three current longest winning streaks, both top-5 in Hollinger's power rankings on ESPN. The number 2 offense vs the number 3 defense. Two teams with beefs so deep they've become theological.
But remember - it's not a rivalry. And I can't wait for this game.
The biggest change for the Warriors has been bench play. How big a change? In 47 minutes of play, Harrison Barnes, Steve Blake, Jordan Crawford, Draymond Green, and Jermaine O'Neal has the 4th best pts/100 possessions differential of any lineup on the team. And it's more O'Neal than Blake - the same unit with Mareese Speights is the second-worst. Best differential, at +74.8 per 100, playing just 35 minutes so far? Stephen Curry, Green, David Lee, O'Neal, and Klay Thompson. (The starters, with Andre Iguodala instead of Draymond and Andrew Bogut replacing JON, is a mere +16.4) The Dubs go 10-deep in players who are in one or more above-team-average lineups - Speights is not one of them. And when the team average is already +5 or so, 10 players who can contribute (or stay out of the way) is deep. And versatile - several configurations of large, and several configurations of pure small-ball. In 30 minutes together on the court, the best small-ball lineup (+49.3, second best overall) - is Barnes - Curry - Green - Iguodala - Thompson.
So that's pretty spiffy. And then there are the Clippers.
Chris Paul is still the best guard in the game. While Steph may be second, it's a big step still to reach CP3's level. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan pull down 36.8% of available rebounds - Lee and Bogut 36.2%. Overall, though, the Warriors are a better rebounding team than the Clippers. Tempos are about equal, and both teams should want this one a lot.
The X factor tonight may be Clipper injuries. With Reddick out and both Jamal Crawford and Jared Dudley questionable, Los Angeles could be down 3 rotation players for this game. The Warriors will need to take advantage of the situation, and as we've seen are now positioned to do exactly that
Warriors by 1 (OT)
Steph and Chris put on a show