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Christmas Day Preview: The Golden State Warriors at the Los Angeles Clippers

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Merry Christmas! Sneak away from the family, league pass it on your phone under the table, or at least stick in some earbuds so you can listen to the radio feed. Do what you have to do - just don't miss this Christmas gift!

Photo by Tony.psd.
The Golden State Warriors (23-4) @ The Los Angeles Clippers (19-10)
Where? Staples Center, LA
When? 7:30 PM PT
TV TNT
Radio KNBR 680 AM / The Beast 980
'Buddy' Blog Clips Nation

The Lakers might be a better team without Kobe, but last game was still a sour loss. Stephen Curry tweeted an economical "Ew" after the affair. One key difference this year has been winning the games we're supposed to win, and a matchup between the most successful team in the league and the 5th least successful certainly counts as such.

In some ways, a matchup with the Clippers is exactly what this team needs right now to keep that sour taste out of their mouths. The Clippers matchups are always passionate to say the least - there has been a good amount of scuffles and physical play in recent history. This is Draymond Green on the last Christmas Day matchup versus the Clippers: "I don't need no memories of that game. It wasn't too jolly for me." That was the game where Draymond threw Blake Griffin an elbow bone. Let's hope that the Warriors muster up a good team effort including some gritty team defense after that last disappointment.

With Andrew Bogut out and Festus Ezeli questionable with a sprained ankle, this game bears a stark resemblance to our playoff series with the Clippers last spring. This time around, there's no Jermaine O'Neal either, so our interior defense is certainly a cause for concern. However we do have Steve Kerr at the helm, and Alvin Gentry on our side, who happens to know the Clippers quite well...

In terms of lineups, I'd expect a starting lineup with either Ognjen Kuzmic or David Lee at the 5. Regardless, we'll probably see some of both at that position throughout the game, as well as some of Kerr's typical small-ball lineups with Draymond Green at the 5. Will be interesting to see if Kerr continues to give Stephen Curry tougher defensive assignments, with some minutes on Chris Paul, or whether Kerr resorts to closing CP3 down with Mr. Klay Thompson.

Even with our starting Center and backup potentially out, we are arguably still deeper than the Clippers. Their best reserve by far is Jamal Crawford, and we know he's pretty streaky. He's the kind of sixth man who can win games single-handedly. You'd expect to see some minutes for 'Big Baby' Glen Davis, and more chaos from the backup Small Forward spot. Their bench mob is pretty rough around the edges.

Draymond Green is about as much of a 'Blake-stopper' as there is in this league. After a relatively poor performance against the Lakers, let's hope that Draymond bounces back and asserts his will in this personal matchup. Blake Griffin seems like the kind of guy who will probably break through the Draymond wall at some point, even if briefly, but there's no reason that can't be postponed a while.

Sidenotes:

  • Spencer Hawes remains out indefinitely for the Clippers (with a knee injury).
  • Offensively, the Clippers are currently ranked 3rd in points scored per possession; Warriors are ranked 5th. Same exact rankings for 3-point %.
  • Defensively, Clippers are ranked 25th in points allowed per possession; Warriors are ranked 2nd.
  • The Clippers have lost 5 of their last 10.
  • Keep an eye out for snazzy Christmas Day jerseys and shoes. Here's Curry's shoe of choice.
  • In case you didn't have a chance to check it out, Nate Parham's posted an insightful Q&A with Clips Nation's Steve Perrin.
  • Where's Steve Ballmer? He'll be there, probably feisty as usual.

Happy Holidays Everyone!