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Warriors face Clippers after the All-Star break

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Golden State turns its focus towards finishing atop the Western Conference for the third straight season.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Golden State Warriors (47-9) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (35-21)

How to watch

Date: Wednesday February 23, 2017

Time: 7:30pm PST

Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

TV: TNT

Radio: 95.7 THE GAME

Team comparison

Injury report

Last updated 2/22/17

Warriors: Zaza Pachulia; David West

Clippers: Chris Paul


Welcome back to real basketball.

With just 26 games left in the regular season, the Golden State Warriors come back from the All-Star break with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

To trade or not to trade?

Right now the Clippers are that guy in your fantasy league who keeps offering you a bunch of third string wide receivers and a kicker for your starting running back. They’ve been embroiled in trade rumors for weeks, and as we come up to the trade deadline, the chatter hasn’t stopped.

It has been long reported that the Clippers were hoping to snag Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks — possibly without losing Chris Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan. But the Knicks aren’t exactly pounding at the door for the chance to take J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford or Austin Rivers. And there’s still a question as to whether acquiring Anthony would even be a good thing for the Clippers.

The Boston Celtics seem to be aggressively hunting for a deal as the trade deadline nears and reportedly spoke with the Clippers about acquiring Griffin. However, such a trade is unlikely as the Clippers would probably want too many key pieces in return.

I don’t see anything happening at the trade deadline for the Clippers that will make them significantly better. Honestly, the best thing that can happen for them is getting Paul back on the court.

Better call Paul

Speaking of Paul, the Clippers have gone 6-7 since losing their superstar point guard. Not a horrible record considering they were missing their main facilitator. They even entered the All-Star break with a nice four game win streak. But without Paul, they’re just not the same team.

Paul is listed on the injury report as of now but has been medically cleared to play. If he sits out, the Clippers will once again come to Oracle Arena outmatched. Griffin has been playing inspired basketball this season and is a threat every time he takes the court. But while Jordan and Redick are good players, their effectiveness is cut in half without Paul.

When Paul has the rock in his hands, Redick can rove along the perimeter just waiting to catch-and-shoot while Jordan becomes an ever-present lob threat. Both Redick and Jordan play better off the ball. This comes to the forefront when Paul isn’t there to cover up their weaknesses. You know you have a problem when a 14 year old feels confident he can out-shoot one of your starters.

Unfortunately for the Clippers, none of their other guards come close to utilizing the team’s personnel like Paul does. If Paul does play, it will be a big boost for the visiting squad.

Will the Warriors’ big men play?

Zaza Pachulia and David West are slowly being worked back into practice after suffering injuries. It is possible that they will suit up for Thursday’s game but nothing official has been announced.

In the event they sit, the bench mob has stepped up in their absence and will get another opportunity to get some quality minutes. JaVale McGee has flourished as the temporary starter and other front court players like James Michael McAdoo and Kevon Looney have had good stretches of play.

There’s no reason to rush Pachulia or West back as there’s enough time for them to recover and still get some regular season reps before the playoffs. Both of them will be key players for the playoffs and the priority should be getting them back to 100% for the postseason.

Western Conference three-peat

The All-Star break was a good opportunity to take a break from the grind but it’s time to get back to work. As they enter the final stretch of the regular season, the Warriors should be looking to secure home-court advantage for the playoffs. Forget chasing or protecting records.

Having the Clippers as their first opponent off the break may be helpful as the Warriors have showed up in their past three matches this season. There’s no getting around it: the Warriors are a better team than the Clippers. But all it takes is a stretch of low-energy play and a great game from Griffin for the Clippers to steal this one. No matter how dominant the Warriors have been so far this season, wins can’t be taken for granted.

Golden State would do well to put the pedal to the floor and collect wins fast so that they can secure that top seed and enter the playoffs rested and ready to go.


Predictions

In loving fashion, my wife said she could out-predict me for the rest of the season. That made me proud ... but also, them’s fightin’ words, so it’s on now. We decided to finish out the regular season with a friendly spousal wager. We’ll each pick the winner, point differential and high scorer for these last 26 games. One point for the closest point differential (only if the right winner is chosen) and one point for selecting the best high scorer.

I’ll put updated tallies on each preview I write, including all the games in between, and I’ll also put each game’s prediction on twitter before tip-off. (@ForTheWs)

To the winner go the spoils.

Mr. Lee (0 points)

Winner: Warriors by 9

High scorer: Kevin Durant

Thoughts: I was looking at the comments for ESPN’s game summary and saw this gem:

“Clippers will show a lot of pride/resolve and will only loose by 48 pts this time..”

Levity and typos aside, I agree that the Clippers will fight back a bit more this time, leading to the only single digit point differential for the season between these teams.

Mrs. Lee (0 points)

Winner: Warriors by 3

High scorer: Klay Thompson

Thoughts: I can see the Warriors having a little All-Star break hangover, making it a tight game.