It’s important to remember that this is just one game, sure. But even within that framework, the Warriors passed the test with a resounding A+.
It was all Warriors in the first quarters against the Clippers in Los Angeles. The 18-point advantage they earned during that period was more than enough to see them through the Clippers’ best counter-punch — sometimes literally so.
This makes it seven straight wins against Pacific Division opponents and 714 days since the Clippers have beaten this Warriors team. Not a bad start to a long road trip.
Let’s examine the details of last night’s domination:
First quarter dominance
It was a proverbial Blitzkrieg in that first quarter!
For the first few minutes of the game, it almost looked like we were in for a defensive battle, until the Warriors’ offense took off and the Clippers’ offense didn’t. As is their style, the Warriors won this game on both ends of the floor. The turnovers started early, and the Clippers started getting rattled.
Early in the game, Chris Paul picked up a technical foul for arguing a call where the ball clearly went off his leg (and, subsequently, maybe even his hand as well).
Stephen Curry was jumping passing lanes on his way to a career-high seven steals on the night, but there were plenty of other reasons the Clippers did so poorly in this game.
In addition to the turnovers, the Clippers’ shots just weren’t falling as they stumbled their way into 33% shooting on the quarter and slightly below 40% overall on the night. J.J. Redick ended up with two points on four shot attempts, while Blake Griffin had 12 points on 20 attempts.
That’s not good, and certainly not enough to beat the league’s top offense. Some of this was certainly the Warriors’ defense which, while ranked eighth in the league in defensive efficiency, can still show flashes of complete defensive dominance when the team is as focused as it was against the Clippers on Wednesday night.
It’s nice to see Draymond Green score points — 22 of them to be exact — and, of course, he delivered across the board with 5 boards, 4 dimes and 2 steals.
Green said he was working with assistant coach Ron Adams recently and adjusted his shot so that he was lined up more with his shoulders square and consciously jumping straight up rather than fading away, and the improvements showed just when the Warriors needed it. A big part of this victory was Green, who was doing double duty, more than holding his own defensively and showing up big on the offensive end as well. The man known as the heart and soul of this Warriors’ team racked up 14 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists — in the first quarter alone.
Durant didn’t shoot great, but managed seven assists with no turnovers, and was the leading rebounder for the team. Thankfully, Green was able to make up the difference, ending up with a season-high 22 points on 3 for 5 shooting from deep. At a time when the Warriors’ shooters were off, this was huge. (Curry went 0-8 from deep, while Durant was 1-5 and both Clark and Iguodala were 0-2).
Clippers are slipping
Blake Griffin went 5-for-20 with 7 turnovers, while J.J. Redick had two points and was a whopping minus 23 on the night.
Forget the fact that this is Warriors versus Clippers for a moment. The Clippers have lost the last five out of seven games, after an extremely strong start to the season. Beyond just losing this game, the team seemed in solid meltdown formation, starting with Chris Paul’s flustered early technical foul and ending with Blake Griffin picking up another technical foul for a late-game frustration judo throw of Zaza Pachulia.
One of the reasons people dislike this Clippers team is the sheer amount of whining they do. Every call against them is an abomination — neither Chris Paul nor Blake Griffin have ever committed a foul. Here’s a classic CP3 highlight: super transparent flop, followed by petulant reaction:
Former Warrior Marreese Speights weighed in after the game:
“First we need to start really just (leaving) the refs alone. Guys just got to sacrifice, do some other things than scoring, do some other things than your personal goals. Just try something new. They’ve been doing it here for four or five years and it hasn’t been working so it’s time to try something new.”
I’m not sure how this will play out. Remember, if you will, that Speights has called out these guys before, saying, “It’s not really Blake Griffin; it’s all Chris Paul for real. Chris Paul starts all of that stuff. Before Chris Paul came here, the team was not like that. It’s just two teams going hard at each other.”
Speights is a smart man. In spite of the Clippers undeniable talent, on a night when the Warriors didn’t shoot all that well, it was mostly the Clippers’ lack of composure that doomed them early.
Iguodala came out for this game. It seems like he measures the games he’s going to try and control and this, apparently, was one of those games. The superb sub came in and chipped in 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal to go along with 25 minutes of excellent defense. But it was his aggression that set this game apart for him. I can’t remember the last time I saw him take a contested drive and dunk into traffic like this:
Back when he first came to the league, Curry spent summers practicing with Chris Paul (then the undisputed best point guard in the game). Those days are long gone now, and with each passing season since they knocked the Warriors out of the playoffs in seven games, the gap has grown. Curry has become a better player than Chris Paul ever was, and is also now on the more favorable side of the peak of his career.
Warriors’ fans don’t like Blake Griffin one bit. Ever since David Lee told him to stop flopping, there has been a growing dislike of the man, even as respect for his play has grown.
And, it’s unlikely that there’s a Warriors’ fan around that didn’t love watching Green own him on both ends of the court last night.
Even JaVale McGee got in on the action!
- Gameflow, for those into the runs and lineups: http://popcornmachine.net/gf?date=20161207&game=GSWLAC
- Box score, for the stats nerds: http://www.nba.com/games/20161207/GSWLAC#/boxscore
- Full-game highlights, for all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RJPi3VGBYE
The Warriors will wake up in Salt Lake City on Thursday and get ready to do it all over again against the Utah Jazz.
Oakland fire donations
Warriors’ players and coaches have pledged to donate $75,000 to the ongoing relief efforts surrounding the Oakland “Ghost Ship” fire. Fans can donate at warriors.com/oaklandfiredonations.