The start of the NBA Playoffs over the weekend was hardly devoid of any drama as nearly half of the series saw the lower seed pull off a Game One upset.
But even with a cold shooting night from Klay Thompson and a Kevin Durant ejection, the Warriors still managed to handle business, knocking down the first of their sixteen roadblocks along the tumultuous path to 3-peat glory.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some questions going into Game Two.
Who: Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Clippers (Warriors lead series 1-0)
When: Monday, April 15, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Where: Oracle Arena — Oakland, California
Blog Buddy: Clips Nation
Can Steph be slowed down?
Stephen Curry went absolutely bonkers in Game One to the tune of 38 points on a true shooting percentage...of only 95%.
Doc Rivers let it be known in his postgame presser how much respect he and his coaching staff have towards Curry and they’ve had plenty of time to get well acquainted with the explosive nature of his game over the past several years.
Since Steve Kerr took over, Curry has averaged 30 points and nearly 5 triples a game against the Clippers and this past contest was just another devastating blow in a long line of destruction Curry has left in his wake.
With Patrick Beverley being assigned to Durant, the Clippers elected to go with length, using Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Garrett Temple — both listed at 6’6” — to try and bother Curry. This was the same strategy they used in their last regular season matchup against the Warriors. Despite the small sample size, the similar result of that game — a blowout loss and 27 points by Curry — begs the question if the Clippers are willing to switch things up by moving Beverly onto the Human Torch.
But even in the event of that happening, the matchup most touted by the media tends to disregard the fact that Curry has hardly ever been stopped by Beverley across their careers. Per Basketball Reference, Curry has gotten the better of this contest averaging 26 points across 19 regular season games. In the playoffs, Beverley hasn’t fared much better with Curry still averaging nearly 23 points in the single series they played against each other when Beverley was still rocking a Houston Rockets jersey.
It’s very much a pick your poison type of situation that the Warriors present and the Clippers simply lack the defensive talent to stop all of their scoring threats. But the first few games of a playoff series is just as much of a feel-it-out process as it is a meat-grinder and it’ll be interesting to see if Doc has any moves to make in order to try and slow Curry’s roll.
Can Draymond continue to knock down his open looks?
The leave Draymond Green isolated on an island strategy backfired against the Clippers in Game One as he knocked down more than half of his open looks including all 5 of his shots in the first quarter.
Being the tamest scoring threat on the Warrior’s offense, everyone knows the team reaches unbeatable mode once Green is knocking down those open triples opponents are willing to concede if not outright dare him to take.
And in a season where his shot has often looked worse off than it ever has — 28% from deep — those looks will almost certainly grow in number as the team pushes deeper into the playoffs where opponents will prefer to take away the Warrior’s main scoring options.
No one thinks or expects Green to shoot the lights out every game, but he has sneakily improved his shooting over the past month, converting 35% of his looks from downtown. If he can stay between that 32-35% range, that will force the Clippers to make some tough decisions down the stretch.
Can Durant avoid the salty Beverley bait?
With the pair of technical fouls Durant picked up over the weekend, he now has five more to play with for the rest of the playoffs before getting a one-game suspension.
The cause for concern amongst Warriors fans probably stems from the lingering pain of the 2015-16 Finals fiasco when Green got his infamous suspension. But I think Durant should be given the benefit of the doubt over knowing what’s at stake. Until he’s sitting at five technicals, the little slice of revenge on a pest like Beverly is nothing but a nice add-on package to this playoff run.
Plus the memes this moment is generating are pure gold.
Will the Warriors continue their Fo’ Fo’ Fo’ Fo’ pace?
There’s no reason to believe that they won’t. Give props to the Clippers and Doc for making it to the playoff dance without a single superstar on their team. They are the gritty win-by-committee type of team that I would have loved to root for had the Warriors been playing some other team this round.
But the disparity in talent looms well over this matchup and the Warriors still comfortably crossed the finish line in Game One with both Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins having one of their worst games in over a month.
I’m predicting a similar result for Game Two and that Durant goes full assassin mode on Beverley.