After getting smacked in the mouth in Game 3, the Clippers did what the Warriors expected them to do: make the necessary adjustments and bring the fight.
Eventually, it didn’t matter. Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant torched the Clippers’ defense for 32 and 33 points respectively, as the Warriors beat the Clippers 113-105 in Game 4to take a 3-1 series lead back to Oakland for Game 5.
Clippers’ adjustments smart but futile
Before tip off, Clippers coach Doc Rivers elected to start JaMychal Green instead of Ivica Zubac. The move was smart and reasonable. Green forced Andrew Bogut to guard a shooter in mismatches and pick and roll situations. Plus, he provided the Clippers with some size in guarding Durant. They were competitive for a while. However, Thompson broke out during this game, hitting his first seven shots and got loose from three. The Clippers contained Thompson for most of the series by top locking him, denying him clean and open looks. But today, Thompson was aggressive and got what he wanted from three.
Durant once again proved that regardless of the matchup, he can score at will. Clippers rotation shifts didn’t matter. As soon as the game got close and the momentum shift to the Clippers, Durant would come up with a bucket to quell whatever run the Clippers made.
Curry’s foul trouble continues, struggles from the field.
For the third game in the row, Stephen Curry found himself into foul trouble. Again, some of the calls were questionable. His first foul was ticky-tack and petty. He didn’t even reach on the first one. The charge could have been a block as well. Now that third one in the second quarter was a senseless reach. Curry was too aggressive when Green was posting him up, and eventually he was called for a reach in foul. There wasn’t a need to try and defend with two fouls on you regardless of how ticky-tack they were. It wasn’t worth getting a third foul and playing defense with hand behind your back for the half to prevent getting a fourth foul. On the other hand, the referees could never keep the same energy. What was this?
To make matters worse, Curry struggled mightily from the field. He shot 3-for-14 from the field and 1-for-9 from deep. Some of it was the Clippers defense bothering him off the ball. However, most of it was Curry’s stubbornness. Instead of driving the lane, Curry have been forcing the issue from three and when that didn’t fall, his body language became worse as the game progressed.
Hustle combats bench scoring deficit
The Clippers bench outscored the Warriors bench 37 to 18. However, the Warriors won the battles in rebounding and points in the paint. The Warriors out rebounded the Clippers 42-34 and outscored them in second chance points 19-8. The Warriors also scored 11 points off of the Clippers’ 10 turnovers. While the defensive energy was good as a whole, the Warriors could have done better in transition defense, surrendering 21 points to the Clippers’ 13.
The Warriors have a chance to end the series Wednesday night at Oracle. Tip off for Game 5 is 7:30 on TNT.