Back to the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Time to put all the frustrations of a landmark 51-win season behind us and focus on what's ahead!
SB Nation's Warriors vs. Clippers previews
Warriors try to overcome injury, drama in playoffs
The Warriors had one of their best seasons ever, but you wouldn't know it based on the drama with the team's coaching staff and front office. Nevertheless, led by Stephen Curry, Golden State will be a tough out in the postseason.
SB Nation's Warriors vs. Clippers previews
In the first round, our beloved Golden State Warriors will face the Los Angeles Clippers. It's the first time that these two have ever faced each other in the playoffs and that probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone: who would've predicted these two ever being in the playoffs at the same time at the turn of the century?
Anyway, to kick things off, I've collected predictions from the GSoM staff. Clearly, we're already leaning in one direction, but each writer has provided some brief thoughts and Atma has given you some mandatory history reading to study up prior to the series.
With that, we'll begin with the good news, of course.
Predictions in favor of the Warriors
Atma Brother ONE: Warriors in 6
Let's dig into the history books...
2007: Warriors vs Mavericks- WE BELIEVE in 6
2013: Warriors vs Nuggets- WE ARE WARRIORS in 6
It's funny when you think about it, but the Golden State Warriors have not lost a first round playoff series in over 20 years. (Take that San Antonio Snores!) That was Chris Webber's rookie year when mastermind Don Nelson assembled what many thought was a contender for the next 10 years with CWebb, Latrell Sprewell, Tim Hardaway (injured that season), Chris Mullin, some guy they traded Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond for, and crew.
So coming back to the present day--The Warriors will be severely outcoached. They will be dominated on the glass if Andrew Bogut is out the entire series. They will drive Dub Nation nuts with silly turnovers that painfully fuel Lob City highlights.
BUT-- Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will catch fire from downtown. David Lee will be good for 20-10 every game in this series. Andre Iguodala will dominate defensively. The bench squad of Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford will make everyone forget about two former Warriors who for all the hoopla (some deserved) aren't even in the playoffs this year. Jermaine O'Neal will turn back the clock for stretches and continue his stellar defensive effort. Draymond Green will get under the Clipper's skin. Harrison Barnes will start his Mr. April campaign. Shoot, imagine what will happen if Bogut can battle the odds like Lee last year in the playoffs and give the Warriors some good minutes.
2014: Warriors vs Clippers- WE ARE REAL in 6.
Ivan Bettger: Warriors in 6
...because UNSTOPPABLE BABY!
Sleepy Freud: Warriors in 7
Because Atma and Ivan looked lonely. Also, the Warriors have won five of the last eight meetings between the teams, a few of them without Bogut. I think the Warriors also have a distinct advantage (especially defensively) at the wing positions, where LeBron-era NBA battles are often lost and won. The Clippers don't have a wing player as good/versatile as Iguodala; and they don't have four as good/versatile as Iguodala, Thompson, Green, and Barnes. Their wings are either small (Redick), poor defensively (Crawford, Dudley, Redick), old-ish (Barnes), or gimpy (Granger). If the Ws keep the pace fast and run lots of spread-floor three-wing looks with Lee and O'Neal alternating at C, they could really exploit that advantage.
Plus, as Atma notes above, the Warriors don't lose first round playoff series. We're the anti-Nuggets.
(That said ... Clippers in 5).
Predictions in favor of the Clippers
Sam Sorkin: Clippers in 6
With the loss of Andrew Bogut, Golden State is left without its best rim protector, and that will be a death knell going up against DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. For the Warriors to have any shot at winning, Stephen Curry needs to be the clear-cut best player in the entire series and receive sufficient help offensively; more importantly, the Warriors must dominate defensively to stymie the Clipper offensive juggernaut. This could happen for two, perhaps even three games, but I just don't see it all happening enough times for the Warriors to win the series.
Ronaldinho: Clippers in 6
The Clippers have been playing great ball in the second half of the season, strengthened their bench, have a huge coaching edge, and the Warriors will really miss Bogut against that front line. The Warriors' only hope is if Curry goes into god mode four times in seven games, and the rest of the team is good enough to make his individual heroics stand up. The Clippers in five wouldn't surprise me.
Andy Liu: Clippers in 6.
At the end of the day, the Clippers are just better at playing to the part of the process. Namely, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan controlling the tempo of the game via rebounds and free throws.
Tony.psd: Clippers in 6
We just don't have the flopping skills they do & we're going to have a helluva battle with the refs.
Nate Parham: Clippers in 6
As the curator of this piece, I really wanted to throw some additional weight to the optimistic side of things but I just can't see how this team wins without Bogut in the lineup. I could just echo the sentiment of others about getting four big games from The Splash Brothers, but I'll add that even if they do give us four big games a) there's no guarantee that the Warriors will have enough on the interior to win even those games and b) there's no guarantee that the Warriors' bench can keep up with the Clips' bench for four games, despite how well Jordan Crawford and Harrison Barnes played in the season finale. What I believe will get the Warriors to six is the power of Roaracle, but I can't project anything past that.
EvanZ: Clippers in 4
...so I can manage expectations.