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Warriors vs. Clippers Preview: Let’s test the improvement

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We’ve got another barometer game.

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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

After two mighty impressive victories, the Golden State Warriors are getting a bump up in competition, with the first of two straight games against the Los Angeles Clippers. These should be fun. Or at least, hopefully they’re fun.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (4-3) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (5-3)

When: 7:00 p.m PT

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California

TV: ESPN (available through fuboTV)

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, James Wiseman
Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka

Last results:

Warriors: Beat Kings 137-106
Clippers: Lost to Spurs 116-113

Team ratings:

Warriors: 107.9 offense (18th), 112.6 defense (24th), -4.7 net (24th)
Clippers: 114.2 offense (4th), 112.3 defense (22nd), +1.8 net (10th)

The story

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but this is a golden opportunity for the Warriors to prove themselves. They looked strong in Sunday’s win against the Portland Trail Blazers. They looked dominant against the Sacramento Kings.

And now they get a title contender with two perennial All-Stars.

The Warriors don’t need to win the game, though it would be nice. But after getting embarrassed by the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, they need it to be a competitive game in order to not take a hit to the confidence level.

Steve Kerr said on Monday that it felt like the season was just starting for the Warriors, which made sense: they didn’t play in the bubble, they reworked their roster, they had a training camp that was half the normal length, and their starting frontcourt contracted the coronavirus and missed most of camp.

Beat the Clippers, and we can start to throw away those early season blowout losses. But get run off the court again, and we’re halfway back to square one.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Kelly Oubre Jr.

After starting the year a dismal 2-for-30 from beyond the arc, Oubre finally found his shot against the Kings, going 4-for-6 from distance. But most impressive was his defense, which continued to be at a high level, even against an athletic and crafty point guard in D’Aaron Fox.

Both of those things will need to be on display against the Clippers. He’ll be tasked with guarding either Kawhi Leonard or Paul George, and both players are elite. And if the Warriors want to have a successful offensive night against a swarming LA defense, Oubre will need to knock down open jumpers.

Clipper to watch: Kawhi Leonard.

The Warriors know as well as anyone how destructive Leonard can be. But he’s also prone to the occasional destructively inefficient night.

In the season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers, Leonard shot 10-for-26 from the field, and 1-for-8 from distance. Against the Phoenix Suns three days ago, he shot just 4-for-21. Even if his shot isn’t falling, he’ll keep firing.

It’s worth noting that the Clippers won both of those games, so the Dubs can’t just shut down Leonard and call it a day. But Leonard’s performance will go a long way towards deciding the outcome of the game.

Matchup to watch: Steph Curry vs. Patrick Beverley.

When Curry and Beverley play against each other, it’s almost always fireworks. Curry is the best offensive point guard in the league, and Beverley is one of the best defensive point guards. Curry plays offense with flair and charisma, and Beverley plays defense like a guard dog confronting intruders.

Beverley loves to talk trash, and Curry loves to smile and go along with it.

It’s basketball at its best.

Keys to victory

  • In a battle of MVP candidates, have Steph Curry look like the best player on the floor.
  • James Wiseman needs to be aggressive and not let Serge Ibaka’s strong defense keep him on the perimeter.
  • Warriors need to win the energy battle since the Clippers are on the back end of a back-to-back.
  • Eric Paschall needs to hold his own if he plays small ball 5 against Ivica Zubac.

A three-game winning streak? Would be nice.