I went to see the band Fishbone this weekend. It’s a band that I actually opened up for at the Phoenix back when I was in my crappy highschool band. They’ve changed a lot. Pretty much the entire band was different, but it was better. I think maybe the old memories combined with the bands’ renewed vigor to all contribute towards one of the most fun shows I’ve been too in a while.
And so it is with the Los Angeles Clippers. A team that carries the name of our old foe but bears little resemblance to the flopping, arguing, pain in the neck that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin embodied. This squad may not have the name recognition, but this year’s iteration of the Clippers may actually be one of the best versions we’ve ever had to face.
That said, the Warriors are still trying to get back to their old dominance. If they can master their own struggles and return to form, it’s not going to matter how good the Clippers are.
WHO: Warriors (22-11) vs. Clippers (19-13)
WHEN: Sunday, December 23; 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Oracle Arena
RADIO: 95.7 The Game
Three things to watch for the Warriors
With forty percent of the season gone, Klay Thompson’s shooting is officially a problem. He’s shooting 33.7% from deep - that’s not even good for non-sharpshooters. We are seeing a lot of comparisons to last season’s 44% three point percentage (a career best for him) but even compared to his career average, he’s still down by about eight percent. It doesn’t make any sense. Shots that used to go in, just don’t.
I still think he will come storming back into his familiar forty-ish percent splash brother self, but in the meantime, it’s just something the team will have to work around.
Defenders against Draymond
One of my pet peeves with coach Steve Kerr is his willingness to accept low offensive output from certain players. I get it - the team is predicated on getting the best shots, and a Draymond Green or Andre Iguodala 13 foot jumper probably isn’t our best look. But I think it allows an easy out for players who could easily do more.
Draymond Green is currently averaging just below seven points per game. His scoring per 100 possessions (to normalize for pace of play) is the absolute lowest of his career. Has Kerr given too easy of an out to Green? Hugo Kitano recently wrote an article begrudgingly admitting that even with the abysmal percentages, Green should indeed to continue hoisting threes, and Kevin Durant agrees:
Kevin Durant on Draymond Green: “We know he gives us defense and passing, but we need him to score.” pic.twitter.com/YI31ypte4Y— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 20, 2018
So, bear with it for a while. We need Green to keep shooting these shots, we can ill afford teams giving him the Tony Allen treatment by daring him to shoot. It’s not just threes, as Durant says above, those drives ending in a floater or dump pass are a necessity.
Like Green said the other day, when those shots do start falling, people are in trouble. In the meantime though, it’s something to be aware of.
It’s true, the Warriors haven’t been able to find their dominance this season. The team is still winning well enough to remain essentially tied for first place in the top-heavy Western Conference, but they just flat out haven’t been as good as we’ve all grown accustomed to.
It’s just the margin of error is a little bit smaller this year, but we understand that. [We] continue to get everybody’s best shot against us, and it’s been a grind. Nothing comfortable about this position we’re in, in terms of like -- we want to get back to being dominant. That’s what we’re working toward.
Threepeats are hard, but it isn’t really all that hard to see the problem with the Warriors this year: defense. The Warriors lead the league in effective shooting percentage, and score more points per game than any other team, even with all these injuries and a slumping Klay Thompson - but that defense may be a problem.
We have the 13th ranked defense, giving up an average of about 108 points per 100 possessions - not good. The hand check and other rule changes this season have pulled the trends upwards, so it’s not really the concern of the trajectory but moreso that just two years ago we had the second best defense in the NBA. This new mediocre defense in the regular season is a change, and if you’re looking for explanations as to why the Warriors haven’t been able to outdistance themselves from the pack, it’s as good of an answer as any (well, “injuries” is probably just as valid).
The Clippers are all over the place
I wrote so much on the Warriors, it behooves me to at least quickly cover our opponents. The LA Clippers are deep in the maelstrom that is the upper-/mid-tier of the Western Conference.
They have a top-ranked offense that scores tons of points and shoots the deep ball well, and have five players averaging double digits.
Like the Warriors, the Clippers will enter today’s game on the back end of a back-to-back. Also like the Warriors, the Clippers won last night, but unlike us - it wasn’t close! They just handed the conference-leading Nuggets their worse loss of the season.
However, prior to destroying the team on top of the standings, the Clippers had lost six of their last seven games. So I don’t know what’s going to happen here this evening.
One thing’s for sure - we get to watch two fast-paced, offensive juggernauts go toe-to-toe and it should be a fun one!
Soooooooo many points.