I have four gold-blooded musings about the last game before Christmas. Let’s get into them!
These new Clippers don’t look like frauds
You know how the Warriors players smirkingly remark that other teams always get up to play their best games against the champs? Yeah, that LITERALLY happened last night. Clippers made 13 of 16 treys at the half and finished 18 of 23. I went to Basketball Reference and searched for how many teams had shot that well and lost. There were zero results. So, I searched again for how many had shot that well and won. Again no results found.
That’s when it dawned on me: this was the best shooting in NBA history based on number of attempts.
Kerr mentioned in his postgame presser that the Warriors were a step late on a few closeouts early, giving the Clippers the daylight they needed to get into a shooting rhythm.
To my gold-blooded eye, it appears that the “regular season” Warriors sometimes play 24 Hour Fitness defense: those kinda intentionally late closeouts on shooters in attempts to goad their opponent into jacking up a shot. It’s the equivalent of saying “I’m leaving you open on purpose because I think you’re probably going to brick.”
Last night the Clippers didn’t brick, and by the time the Dubs got into them, they were already NBA Jams level hot. They played aggressive, intelligent basketball that kept the champs from getting comfortable.
The Dubs-Clips rivalry appears to be brewing again, although not as acrimonious as the Chris Paul/Blake Griffin edition. The Warriors ground that era into the dust and the Clippers appeared done for the time being. Instead, they are reborn around a scrappy band of non-stars who play the game with consistent intensity. This is the second straight time L.A. played the champs down to the wire: these Clippers are looking for real.
Curry and Durant avenge earlier loss to Clippers
The previous match-up between these two teams was known as the “Dray-KD Fiasco.” It was also a Clippers win, despite Durant’s 33 points. The Clippers have no idea how to guard the reigning Finals MVP. Durant reiterated that last night with 35 points. 12 rebounds, 5 assists. These gaudy stats came in a win however.
The difference was that Stephen Curry didn’t play in the first Dubs-Clips clash, but made his presence felt last night in a major way. 42 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 triples from Curry balanced Durant’s monster night. Both Durant and Curry had four point plays. Oh yeah, “Unanimous” also hit the game winner the night after KD slammed the door shut on Dallas.
Clippers go 18/23 on 3s, but Warriors dragged to a 129-127 win by their MVP duo— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 24, 2018
-Steph Curry: 42 points, 12/22 FG, six 3s, 12/13 FT, game-winning layup
-Kevin Durant: 35 points, 10/19 FG, 12/15 FT, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks
Final numbers for Curry & KD tonight:— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) December 24, 2018
13/19 on 2's (68.4%)
9/22 on 3's (40.9%)
24/28 on FT's (85.7%)
Two guys. That's the best offensive duo ever
Can we also just take a moment to savor Curry’s game winner the same way the Warriors’ bench lined up to so?
This is dope.— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 24, 2018
The bench lined up together to watch Steph’s game-winner pic.twitter.com/qBHVzXWa4B
Steph’s game-winner in slow motion is just magical. pic.twitter.com/Fyl0BbSgbY— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 24, 2018
Also, did you realize that Curry went bananas against the All-Defense tandem of Avery Bradley and Patrick Beverly? Those are two small guards who are in the league mainly because they are hellacious defenders; they are as close to Curry-irritants as the league has seen.
If those two super defenders can’t tag team to hold Curry under 40, what chance does the rest of the league have?
There’s more than one way to win an NBA game
After a lot of our losses this year, a vocal contingent from Dub Nation screams for the Warriors to shoot more threes. As if that’s the magic answer.
But if they were to hang out with my grandpa like I am for the holiday season, they would hear him bemoan the Warriors already shooting way too many threes.
“There’s more than one way to win a ballgame!” bellows “Papa” from the kitchen while the rest of the family chats around the TV. I don’t blame him: he literally witnessed Bill Russell battle against Wilt Chamberlain with his own eyeballs.
Last night was the game that validated what he’s been saying forever.
The Warriors missed 26 of their 40 attempts from downtown against the most accurate three-point barrage in NBA history...and won! Let’s look at the numbers for how.
- Turnovers: Warriors 7, Clippers 17
- Points in the Paint: Warriors 48, Clippers 40
- Free Throws: Warriors 31 for 36, Clippers 23 for 29
- Rebounds: Warriors 46, Clippers 42
- Steals: Warriors 9, Clippers 1
- Blocks: Warriors 7, Clippers 1
Brother Jonas started
The Warriors experimented by starting forward Jonas Jerebko at the power forward slot, moving Draymond Green to center.
In 21 minutes he had 7 points, on 3-of-7 shooting from the field, 1-of-5 shooting from the three-point line. He also had five fouls and -4 plus/minus. While it wasn’t the best box score, his energy was infectious and electrified Oracle in spurts.
Jonas Jerebko is.............. good at basketball pic.twitter.com/mshzlxdPzP— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) December 24, 2018
Jordan Bell received 0 minutes, as Warriors coach Steve Kerr seemed pretty intent on throwing small ball units at the Clippers. Kevon Looney had 10 points and 7 rebounds off of the bench and was a key contributor. I am certainly very curious as to what lineup Kerr goes with on Christmas against the size and activity of Tyson Chandler.