Golden State Warriors (1-0) at L.A. Clippers (0-1)
Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA
7:30 p.m. PST
TV: TNT (national), CSNBA/HD (local) | Radio: KNBR
Buddy blog: Clips Nation
If you've been following the NBA long enough to remember the time when the first round was just five games per series, perhaps you'll appreciate the expansion to seven games after Game 1 of the first round between the L.A. Clippers and Golden State Warriors.
Playoff games shouldn't be decided by that kind of foul trouble and having a seven game series at least allows for some room for error.
Without taking anything away from the Warriors, it's fair to say that we don't want a series decided by which team has fewer players fouling out - as a Warriors fan, we want to put to rest any talk of the refs deciding the outcome and beat the Clippers without letting them have an officiating excuse. So things will be different for Game 2 and, honestly, that's worth looking forward to after the way Game 1 turned out.
So how might Game 2 be different? It's hard to say exactly, but here are three questions that will probably frame what changes.
Three questions for Game 2
1. How much different will this game be assuming Blake Griffin, Chris Paul,and Andre Iguodala able to play normal minutes?
The Clippers' performance with and without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul on the court is so staggering it's almost easy to ignore Game 1 entirely and just go back to the pessimistic place where the GSoM staff began this series.
.... um.... the Clippers were +17.8 per 100 possessions with Chris Paul on the floor. With him off, for 12 minutes... they were MINUS 40.4.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 20, 2014
In the 14 minutes that Griffin and Paul were on the floor together in Game 1, the Clippers were +15 and had an offensive rating of 161.3, according to NBA.com/stats. There's definitely a sample size issue there, but it's fair to say that the Clippers were severely hampered in Game 1 with those two in foul trouble.
Even if you grant the Warriors Iguodala's foul trouble and David Lee's spotty (at best) first half, it's pretty clear the Clippers will be "gaining" a ton if Griffin and Paul just stay on the floor together for a reasonable amount of time.
2. How much will Steve Blake play?
Steve Blake might not have been great for the Warriors this season, but he's a competent enough point guard that he can be relied upon to give Stephen Curry a rest on occasion - by the looks of it, Curry could've used that rest in the second half.
Ronaldinho has already pointed out in his piece about Mark Jackson's performance in Game 1 that playing Blake so little in Game 1 was one of the more curious decisions of the game. He played just 7 minutes in the game, the vast majority of which came in the first half.
Did Game 1 reflect Blake's standing in the playoff rotation or was it just a quirk in the substitution pattern? We'll have to see in Game 2.
3. How will the Clippers adjust defensively?
As Andy Liu described in his breakdown of Game 1, the Clippers' defense in Game 1 was not good at all - there's only so much you can say about the officials when you're incapable of guarding anyone. On the Warriors' end, they were plagued by 23 turnovers despite the Clippers' poor defense.
You have to figure that the Clippers will a) play the pick and roll differently or b) tighten up whatever it was they were trying to do on the backside. That has implications for where the ball goes in the Warriors' offense and possibly the types of looks that Curry and Thompson get. Either way, how many people really believe the Splash Brothers will shoot as poorly as they did (13-for-36 combined) from the field again?
Simultaneously, independent of whatever the Clippers do you have to figure that the Warriors could have less turnovers: although they are a turnover-prone team, so many of their 23 turnovers were just totally careless and more about them than their opponent - they've shown the ability to perform better than that.
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It's hard to project answers to those questions without seeing how the game actually unfolds. But the Warriors can win this game if Iguodala comes up big on both ends, they figure out a way to get Curry some rest, and the Clippers continue to struggle figuring out how to guard the pick and roll. Still, although it's almost certain that things will change significantly in Game 2, it's just hard to know what to think until we get to see both teams play with a normal rotation for 48 minutes.
For more of our playoff coverage, check out our Warriors-Clippers section.