Many prayer meetings were turned down during the making of this...
This all started during the 2012-13 season when Mark Jackson took Joe Lacob's Warriors to their first postseason since the We Believe era. The first big road trip of the year came in early December, when the team went 6-1 and marked a stretch where many first believed the Warriors had finally, legitimately arrived.
December 12, 2012: Draymond Green shocks a home crowd in Miami with a buzzer-beating win.
While the Dubs fought their way to the playoffs for the first time under the new regime, the paralleled Los Angeles Clippers pushed towards the top of the Pacific division. Both teams have recognized the other as their biggest hurdle in claiming the Pacific West, ever since. (Warriors won season series that year 3-1)
The Clippers have wanted a piece of the Warriors after Golden State took the championship last season. Inversely, Glenn Rivers' Clipps have stood front and center in the crosshairs of Steph Curry's squad since the bigless 2014 team lost to LA in the 2nd round.
More immediately, the Warriors hated how seriously the Clippers lorded over them during a 95-130 preseason blowout loss last month. Shaun Livingston, historically rivaling Andrew Bogut for taking the MBP award (most brittle player) didn't appreciate Blake Griffin stepping on his shoestrings:
"You’re out here trying to throw elbows at me and wrap me up and do all that," Livingston said. "That makes no sense to me. Just play and you don’t have to do all of that. You’re big enough and strong enough that you can just box me out without doing all of that. He’s going with all these antics; just play,"
"He’s out here wrapping me up, putting elbows to my forehead. OK. I understand. Don’t get me wrong. They want to beat us."
It was a stroke of genius to keep the main guns on the bench during the preseason loss, as ugly as it was. The Clippers still haven't figured out how to beat the Warriors, and giving them a test run and risking injuries to angst seemed like an obvious lose-lose. Now Doc can plan fresh. Preparing to cover Curry must be like hyping yourself up before a head-butting contest with a Toyota — you think you can, but you know you can't.
Quietly the most insulting thing Klay's maybe ever said. He's making it sound like building grand sand castles at Stinson, while alluding that the Clipps were competing for a preseason trophy.
Chris Paul vs. Stephen Curry
Reinvigorated by the addition of HOFer Paul Pierce, 30 year-old Chris Paul doesn't look to be slowing down this season after playing in all 82 games last year. He's led the Clippers to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2007 (though it might be noted that their schedule has featured Sacramento twice, Dallas, and Phoenix — an easier stretch than the Warriors have had to date).
Chris Paul had as many turnovers as he did assists in their win Monday night against the Suns: five. He matched that total on Halloween against the Kings. Curry has ten steals in four games, and should look to get into CP3's head in the 1st quarter. Other than Chris Paul and now Paul Pierce, the Clippers lack players with mental toughness. They often live and die with the enthusiasm of Paul. The Warriors can set the stage for a big win by getting on Paul's case early.
Klay Thompson vs. Lance Stephenson/JJ Redick
I don't want to see a scenario where Klay craps on Stephenson for 3 quarters only for Lance to go high on a flagrant foul and force Klay out of the game. Kyle Singler and Norris Cole can attest to the wayward hands of LS. It would be a lame way to stifle our momentum.
Maybe it's unfair to call out Lance this way, but I got him flagged in a game where bad blood and roughing are part of the plan. It's going to get passionate, and the Clips won't be "jolly good" while hostile fans are waving fake bling in their face for 48 minutes; especially if we're winning. Glenn will be ready to create any sort of edge if it threatens to pull away. Consider also, that Stephenson is young and new to a very good team. He could gain teammates' trust by taking Matt Barnes' role as a knockaround guy, making tonight memorable after that fashion.
Redick can't handle Klay's length, contesting shots and lateral movement. If Thompson's defense is dialed in, it will be a huge reason for early success.
Harrison Barnes vs. Paul Pierce
No disrespect, but Paul Pierce is 137 years old. Barnes needs to take advantage of that and continue his aggressive play going to the basket all the way. It will be an interesting defensive debut for Barnes in terms of going up against Pierce for the first time as Western competitors. Let's see how HB reacts in his defensive patience against the wily veteran.
Draymond Green vs. Blake Griffin
I'm thoroughly convinced that Draymond owns Griffin. Forever.
Not sure how to take this...Is Blake just preparing everyone for the butt whooping he knows he's going to get from D Green 4x this year?
Festus Ezeli vs. DeAndre Jordan
I'm actually highlighting this as my personal premier matchup. I want to see what Fezz's mentality is made of after that impressive performance. Ezeli, widely considered neck-in-neck with Barnes as the team's best athlete, will hustle against the NBA's top athlete at the center position.
Bogut plays Jordan very well, which is why I want to see Festus leave a lasting impression on Jordan tonight. When DJ wakes up the next day, his first pains and aches should be survived by impressions from Ezeli. Then he should spend breakfast thinking about Bogut.
Clippers bench vs. Warrior Bench
This is an interesting aspect of the game. The Clippers are one of the few teams that can really match the Warriors' depth. Chris Paul has credited the bench for their winning record. Walton is really counting on Iguodala to lead tonight with a big floor game against one of the deepest reserve units in the league.
Luke Walton vs. Glenn Rivers
Rivers is obviously a great coach and an experienced one at that. Luke will need to carefully manage minutes and counter affectively to the Clippers' depth. Rivers will attack aggressively, as he has a big advantage moving into the game against inexperienced Walton.
"You're both as good as your record and they're undefeated, we're undefeated," "So, no matter how much you win by, the records are the same. But we'll see. They're the champs."
- Doc Rivers