By J. M. Poulard
Fresh of a defeat at the hands of the defending champions on Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors (15-23) will host the Los Angeles Clippers (13-24) tonight, seeking retribution for the loss they took at their hands last Sunday. The Clippers are playing terrific basketball as of late, winning eight of their pass 11 games.
On offense, the Los Angeles Clippers average 97.9 points per game (17th in the NBA) on 45.5% field goal shooting (18th in the league). When we went In The Scope last Sunday, we mentioned that this Clippers team was an efficient scoring bunch because of their ability to manufacture points near the basket. And well, let’s be honest, that trend has not changed one bit in the last week. Indeed, according to Team Rankings, the Baron Davis led squad averages 47.3 points in the paint per game (second in the association) on the strength of their athletic big men (Griffin and Jordan), their offensive rebounding (sixth best offensive rebounding team in the league at 12.2 offensive rebounds per game) and their guards.
The combination of Eric Gordon and Baron Davis normally overwhelms most backcourts because of how physical they are at the offensive end. They have the ability to post up most of the guards in the NBA; and are also more than capable of driving right past their defender to get to the rim.
Consequently, the Highlight Clips (yes, I have officially baptized them) defeated the Warriors last Sunday because they were able to dominate the paint against them. Los Angeles pulled down 16 offensive rebounds, scored 50 points in the paint and got themselves to the free throw line 43 times.
The Clips were able to put up 105 points on the board, however Golden State’s defense did manage to force them into 17 turnovers. Normally Los Angeles averages 15.5 turnovers per game (28th in the NBA), so ball security is an area of concern for this team. In addition, the Warriors did a good job of identifying the non shooters which resulted in the Clippers shooting eight for 33 (24.2%) from beyond 16 feet. This might be an area to exploit in the game tonight.
On defense, the Clippers allow 100.6 points per game (19th in the league) on 44.9% field goal shooting (12th in the NBA). However, the Clippers defense has improved as the season has gone on. Indeed, since December 1st, they are only allowing 97.4 points per game allowed on 41.2% field goal shooting. As good as they have been at locking down opponents as of late, they still struggle with their perimeter defense. Their guards are poor on the ball defenders and the help does not consistently rotate in a timely fashion; which gives opponents a decent path to basket. The Clips only allow 37.4 points in the paint per game (fifth in the association), but given the fact that teams often get inside the lane against them, they surrender 26.8 free throw attempts per game (25th in the NBA).
In their last encounter with Golden State, Los Angeles gave up 36 points in the paint and allowed the Warriors to get to the line 28 times. The Clippers are a subpar team at forcing miscues (they create 12.6 per game, which is 28th in the league); mind you they were able to get the Dubs to cough up the ball 19 times in their last match up which allowed the Highlight Clips (admit it, the name is growing on you) to get out in transition and score 24 fast break points.
One area of concern for this Los Angeles team is their inability to defend the deep ball. They normally give up 39.2% shooting from downtown (29th in the league) because they allow a lot of guard penetration and often employ the zone against their opponents. In last Sunday’s game, they allowed Golden State to convert seven of 22 shots from deep against them; however the Warriors are the league’s best three point shooting team and if given enough open looks they might catch fire in a hurry.
L.A. Clippers game notes: DeAndre Jordan has been quite a presence for the Clippers as of late; averaging 9.2 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game and 2.7 blocks per game on a sizzling 73.5% field goal shooting in his last 10 games.
Golden State game notes: Dorell Wright is averaging 22.7 points in his last 10 games and is doing so on 52.2% field goal shooting and 50.0% shooting from three point range.
J.M. Poulard is a part time contributor for Warriors World and you can follow him on Twitter under the handle name ShyneIV.