With the Golden State Warriors (11-17) hosting the Los Angeles Clippers (19-10), the Warriors World staff as well as Nick Flynt from Clipperblog answered a few questions to preview the matchup.
The last time these two teams played was on Christmas day to help open up the NBA season. The Clippers were able to blow out the Warriors on their home floor as the Dubs struggled to hit shots, converting only 39 percent from the field. Should we expect a different outcome this time around? The bloggers weigh in…
1. Given that the Clippers lack a perimeter defender capable of slowing down big time scorers, should we expect the Warriors backcourt to have a great scoring night?
Nick Flynt, Clipperblog: Yes. The Clippers can get away with heavy doses of Randy Foye and Mo Williams against good guards occasionally (like with Lou Williams not long ago), but usually they’re either going to be giving up open jumpers or allowing the opposition to form a conga line to the rim. Monta and Steph could do some serious damage, and if they don’t then I’m willing to guarantee they’ll be hitting Dorrell Wright for open looks all night.
Jordan Ramirez, Warriors World: The Warriors backcourt accounted for 69 points on 53% (23-43) shooting in their previous game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Besides CP3’s hounding defense the Clippers are extremely vulnerable to giving up big scoring nights from opposing guards. At home, with Lob City in full effect, I expect another solid performance from the Warriors backcourt tonight — whether that performance warrants a win is another question.
J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: Maybe. With Monta getting the majority of his minutes against Randy Foye and Mo Williams, he should get the opportunity to get a multitude of open looks; it will essentially come down to his ability to convert from the field. Ellis won’t be able to score at the rim with Jordan, Griffin and Martin waiting for him there, but he should be able to score in the post (underrated scorer down there against smaller defenders) and on curls that free him up at the top of the key.
Curry will probably play off the ball tonight to take advantage of the Ellis matchup and he tends to drift around the perimeter and have lapses in which he asserts himself offensively; so it will probably come down to him making the most of his opportunities.
2. Fact or Fiction: David Lee has a better post game than Blake Griffin.
Nick Flynt: On some nights, this could be a push. But I’m actually going to go with fiction. David Lee certainly seems to have a better touch than Blake in terms of their general game, but Blake asserts his will in the post by getting to the rim far better than Lee. Blake and Lee are both solid passers out of the post, as well. As I said, on some nights, this will be a push.
Jordan Ramirez: Fact. Griffin’s post game is the wild boar to Lee’s elegant gazelle. Lee has the better spot up jump shot and doesn’t feel the need to power into opponents in hopes of getting a foul call. Griffin is the newly crowned human highlight reel with dunks that no one has ever seen before. But, people often mistake powerful poster slams for a good low post game. Neither play needs to be doubled, but David Lee at least has a slew of moves that he can execute on a game by game basis. As for Griffin, if his quick turnaround is stopped, odds are you killed the boar’s chances of pouncing on his prey.
J.M. Poulard: Fact. Blake Griffin is a good passer out of the post but so far he has shown a mere two consistent post moves:
I. He catches the ball on the block, takes a few hard dribbles and then spins baseline while picking up his dribble and throws up a solid head and shoulder fake that gets the defender out of position and then he dunks (this is the Chris Bosh move by the way) the ball.
II. He will take a few hard dribbles and then turn toward the middle of the lane and try for an acrobatic lay up or a running hook.
Lee on the other hand gives you the spin move on the block, the hard dribbles and then right or left-handed hook shots as well as the hook shot fake and explosion towards the basket.
One of the most glaring weaknesses in Griffin’s game right now is a strong hook shot that he can go to especially late in ball games when his pump fakes are no longer effective. That explains why he struggles to score late in games unless the table is set for him to do so by a player dishing off to him at the basket.
3. Does Chris Paul steer this ship to victory in the fourth quarter?
Nick Flynt: I’m so bad at predictions. If there is victory to be had for the Clipper Ship this game, Chris Paul will certainly be at the helm. However, I wonder if one side might not run away with this game on the strength of mismatches (guards for the Dubs, Blake Griffin on the inside for the Clippers/Chris Paul’s ability in the pick-and-roll) against bad defense. I’ll predict a blowout (though not the side that it will favor), meaning no need for a Mr. 4th Quarter performance from CP3.
Jordan Ramirez: Should we expect anything else? The last time these two teams met Paul combined for a humble 20 points and nine assists. Since then Paul has become the 6’0′ version of Kobe Bryant with dagger after dagger, silencing opponents and showing why many consider CP3 the most complete guard in the NBA. This time around, I expect the game to be very close throughout with the all too familiar Warriors-up-by-one-let’s-hope-we-get-a-stop routine. When the game is on the line, look for CP3 to close it out.
J.M. Poulard: I have professed my appreciation of the Chris Paul express train on more than one occasion, and I do believe that he will be the best player on the court tonight.
The Warriors bench will help keep the game close with their energy, hustle and 3-point shooting, but the Dubs will struggle (as they have all season) to close out the game while Paul will be right where he is most comfortable with the ball in his hands late with the game up for grabs, and unlike against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday afternoon, he will deliver.