The most exciting matchup of Christmas Day is undoubtedly the one between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers. The two teams haven’t met since late November, and a lot has changed since then.
The Clippers really struggled in their first few games without J.J. Redick, as they went 3-4 in the first seven games that he missed. Since then they have seemingly figured it out and adjusted as they are now on their season-high five-game winning streak. The Warriors were in the same boat when it comes to Andre Iguodala and the Dubs are 3-1 since he returned from his hamstring injury.
Keys to the game
Off Eff: Warriors: 103.0 (13th) Clippers: 106.7 (4th)
Def Eff: Warriors 98.8 (6th) Clippers: 100.2 (7th)
Pace: Warriors: 99.1 (5th) Clippers: 98.0 (8th)
Take care of the basketball
The first meeting between these two teams ended 126-115. Stephen Curry burst out for 38 points and hit nine three-pointers, but he also had 11 turnovers. Golden State collectively turned the ball over 25 times which allowed the Clippers to score 22 points. Perhaps a little surprisingly, the Warriors actually scored more points off turnovers (28) despite the fact that their opponents only turned the ball over 19 times. Curry was the biggest culprit last time around and Chris Paul, who had six steals in that game, is going to continue going after Steph. The Warriors’ transition defense has actually been quite good this season, but giving the Clippers an opportunity to run is pretty much equivalent to shooting yourself in the foot.
Stop Chris Paul
Easier said than done, right? CP3 has been practically unstoppable this season, but you have to at least limit his scoring and force him to make plays for others. Curry might have scored 38 points in November, but Paul dropped 42 on the Warriors’ point guard and also dished out 15 assists. Golden State will have to limit his dribble penetration, as he got to the line at will last time around, knocking down 16 of his 17 free throw attempts.
Cool down Jamal Crawford
In Redick’s absence Crawford is seeing some major minutes. He has scored 17 or more in each of the last five wins and has really caught fire with 27 and 22 points over the last two games. When the Clippers struggle to find good looks offensively, they rely on Crawford to create shots for himself through isolation plays. The Clippers lead the league in points per play in isolation and Crawford ranks seventh in the league among all players in iso. Needless to say, the Warriors’ backcourt will have their work cut out for them.
Reggie Bullock (Questionable)
Maalik Wayns (Out)
J.J. Redick (Out)
Jermaine O’Neal (Out)
Ognjen Kuzmic (Out)
Festus Ezeli (Out)