A nationally televised day game, after a couple of off days (and nights) in Los Angeles — what could go wrong?
In an ideal world, the Golden State Warriors would have learned their lesson from blowing a 31 point lead in game two against the Los Angeles Clippers, but this season has been anything but predictable.
GAME DETAILS (Warriors lead series 2-1)
When: Sunday April 21st, 2019 at 12:30pm PST
Where: Staples Center — Los Angeles, California
Line: Warriors -8.5, o/u 235
Injuries: DeMarcus Cousins (quadricep) and Damian Jones (pectoral) are out for the Warriors.
A healthy respect for the Clippers
Anytime the number one team is up against the lowest seed, it’s an uneven playing field. So it goes here. The Golden State Warriors are about as Dynastic as they get — heading into their chase for a threepeat as the overwhelming favorites this postseason with one of the most stacked rosters the NBA has ever seen.
But the Clippers aren’t cowed. Led by an impossibly effective pick and roll attack featuring Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, they were feisty enough to steal game two by staging the most dramatic comeback in NBA history. Both players were slowed a bit in the last game, scoring 10 points below their previous series averages, but each game is a fresh canvas.
One player that has been relatively silent is Danilo Gallinari. As Robert Flom points out over at Clips Nation, one of the more efficient scorers on the team has fallen off a proverbial cliff:
After being the pinnacle of scoring efficiency in the regular season, Gallinari has been the reverse in the playoffs. His shooting splits read like a horror novel: 31.8% shooting from the field, 30% from three, and 93.3% from the free throw line. What gives?
Basketball is a two-way sport, so I won’t attempt to put an emphasis on offense or defense being more important. Suffice to say though, the Clippers will need pretty much everyone to have an excellent game if they hope to have a chance of winning today.
An even healthier respect for what the Warriors are capable of
As we’ve been saying all along, the Clippers don’t really have anyone that’s a great defensive choice against Durant. No shame in it — after all, Durant has made a name for himself as one of the best players (if not the best) in the entire league. But Durant isn’t a volume shooter, he’s averaging around 27 points (on a wildly efficient .702 true shooting percentage), 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.7 blocks and steals each.
Stephen Curry isn’t far behind with 30 points, 7 rebounds, and nearly 5 assists per game at an even more impressive .818 TS%. These two players alone would be an almost insurmountable obstacle, but toss in Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and the rest of the Warriors crew, and it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine this game becoming another blowout. In the three games so far, the Warriors have managed leads of 19, 31, and 36 points. Sure, one of those resulted in a loss, but the uneven weight of this matchup is starting to tip the scales.
By the time this article gets published, I’ll be just staggering home from a punk rock show. See you bright and early for mimosas and basketball!