The last time the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers met, the Dubs walked off their home court victorious on February 20th thanks in large part to their defense. Indeed, in that contest, the Warriors held Lob City to 97 points on 42.9 percent field goal shooting. Granted, the Clips were able to snatch 17 offensive rebounds but the Warriors initial defense was still essential to the win.
Golden State forced their opponents to commit 18 turnovers and was able to score 21 points off of them. In addition, the Dubs limited their amount of touches on the interior, as they held the Clippers to 32 points in the paint. Although the Clips scored right around their normal season output in terms of scoring in the paint, it’s important to limit the amount of looks they get right at the basket given that they have terrific finishers in Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler and Kenyon Martin.
In the contest tonight, it will be important to replicate this type of defensive effort because L.A.C. has some very tough physical big men that will try to impose their will on the glass. Indeed, in the last encounter, Lee and Udoh combined to snatch more than half of the rebounds for the Warriors while the rest of their teammates were essentially non-factors in this area.
The Clippers on the other hand had Griffin, Jordan and Evans nearly match Golden State’s total rebounding figures.
On the other end of the court, the Warriors should be able to manufacture some quality looks against a Clippers defense that is rather porous. Lob City is in dire need of a shut down perimeter defender, and that’s putting it lightly. Caron Butler is a decent defender but he is not a stopper by any stretch of the imagination. Consequently, the Clippers can be beaten off the dribble and can also be taken advantage of in the pick-and-roll.
On February 20th, that weakness in the Clips’ defense was exposed as Monta Ellis scored 32 points on 11-for-20 shooting from the floor. But he wasn’t alone in inflicting damage. Indeed, with Ellis and Curry consistently turning the corner against Los Angeles’ defense, they were able to feed Lee in both the screen-and-roll action as well as off of drives to the basket that produced great passes for attempts right at the rim. The Florida product managed to score 24 points on 9-for-18 shooting from the field.
With that said, the Clips still offer some resistance at the rim with Jordan, but he is often left out of position on drives, which can lead to some second chance opportunities. Also, because Vinny Del Negro’s unit has to collapse into the lane to help against drives, they can be vulnerable when it comes to defending the 3-point line as evidenced by Golden State’s 9-for-23 shooting night from long-range in their last meeting.
If the game comes down to the wire, Chris Paul will surely assert himself offensively and try to close the game much like he has done for his team throughout the season. Dominic McGuire was successful in defending Paul late in their previous encounter, hence it stands to reason that Mark Jackson may go to that matchup once again if the game is hanging in the balance late. Mind you, Paul has since had more reps against bigger players, and has burned the likes of Andre Iguodala and Danny Green in late game situations so far this season.
Game notes: Apparently Curry could have come back into the game against the Mavericks last night but with the Warriors ahead big, Mark Jackson chose to not insert him back into the line up. No word as of yet on his availability for tonight’s contest.
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