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Warriors Clippers Game 3 Preview: Can Golden State stop the Clippers attack that stole game 2?

Andrew Bogut will start in place of injured DeMarcus Cousins, but will never fill the hole in our hearts.

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Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors - Game Two

They’ve been on top of the league for a few years, handing out more than their fair share of whoopings, so it felt disconcerting when the Golden State found them on the wrong end of The Greatest Comeback in NBA History. After losing star Center DeMarcus Cousins for what will almost certainly be the remainder of the season, the Warriors will insert old stalwart Andrew Bogut back into the starting lineup.

Was that the wakeup call that enlivens the Warriors, or will it be the start of the greatest Cinderella story since Doc Rivers married into the Curry family? While it feels like the Warriors can’t possibly lose this series, we said the same thing about a 31 point lead not so long ago.

Game Details

Who: Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers (Series tied 1-1)

When: Thursday April 18th, 2019 at 7:30pm PST

Where: Staples Center — Los Angeles, California

TV: TNT

Injuries: DeMarcus Cousins (quad) and Damian Jones (pectoral) are out for the Warriors.

Blog Buddy: Clips Nation

Will someone please stop the pick and rolls!?

As predicted in our initial preview, the Lou Williams / Montrezl Harrell pick and roll has been absolute murder. This was going to be a problem, but the more pertinent question now is “what do we do.” Coming into the series, we noted that the Warriors 3rd worst rated defense against the pick and roll was on a collision course with the Clippers and their 2nd highest in the NBA ranked pick and roll attack with Harrell as the finisher.

Williams is averaging just over 30 points and 10 assists per game, many of which go to Harrell and his 25 points per game average over the first two games. Both of those scoring numbers are around 10 points over their season averages, and stemming the bleeding defensively is almost certainly the top priority tonight.

As pointed out above, you can easily identify where the breakdowns are occuring — the question for Golden State will be how effectively they can prevent those secondary breakdowns from happening. This is a great warm up exercise for our hopeful matchup against James Harden and the Rockets, and like a hard kung-fu teacher in an old movie, the Warriors won’t get the chance to move on unless they master this initial test.

What sorts of adjustment will Golden State make?

The number one adjustment will be less dumb turnovers. In a game where the margins were as tight as they were in the previous game, nine turnovers from Durant and four each from Draymond Green and Stephen Curry is just an unacceptably high number. We’ve been hearing this for years, and it’s not a critical flaw (Warriors had 22 turnovers to the Clippers 19) but these are precisely the sort of edge details that define a championship team.

Also, as Sports Illustrated discussed, the Clippers really aren’t doing a great job of slowing down the Warriors offense; But what they are managing to do is bump Durant off of his usual stat line:

It’s hard to describe the scheme as successful—the Dubs’ offensive rating through two games is 115.1, slightly higher than their regular season-leading mark of 114.9. But it does give L.A. a fighting chance, and in Game 2, it helped give Durant fits.

Durant went all the way in yesterday, and broke down the matchup in some detail — as covered by Brady Klopfer for us already in great detail. The most salient detail here is Durant’s description of the coverage, you can read about it via that link (it’s all over the internet too), but let me instead just use a visual example put forth by Anthony Slater of the Athletic. Here’s what Durant is looking at when he catches the ball:

So please, my fellow Warriors’ fans, don’t besmirch Durant’s good name. He’s making the right decisions. Remember that at least four of his turnovers in the previous game were offensive fouls — trying to push through the play.

Believe it or not, there’s a broader war underway here, and coach Steve Kerr and the rest of the Warriors will have some counters planned for game three.. but that plan is probably not Durant bulling over Beverley for 30 shots.

Here’s Durant’s quip on the solution, as transcribed by Anthony Slater of the Athletic:

We gotta use a couple more movements in order for us to get open on the top-lock. Backdoors might be there. Just continue to move and be patient within the offense. We can kind of move this team for at least 12, 13 seconds until we find something. Then if not, guys can find something, our scorers can go to work.

I expect Durant to be more aggressive, particularly if Beverley continues to press all the way up into his body (which is a foul), but there is definitely a game plan in place to punish the scheme.


Bright side: more Looney

Losing DeMarcus Cousins was a huge blow, both on the court and emotionally. He fully bought into our system, and was starting to look incredibly useful in specific matchups. That’s gone now.

Golden State will instead dust of Andrew Bogut at the start of games — but I’d expect his minutes to be relatively limited. Instead, Kerr and the Warriors are much more likely to go with their proven Hampton’s Five lineup, or perhaps even a lot more of Kevon Looney, who was phenomenal in game two.

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