The Golden State Warriors will be visiting Los Angeles to play the Clippers in their opening game of the pre-season. Both teams are coming into this season with championship aspirations and they will get the year started at the Staples Center, which is the last place these two teams met in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs. The stakes might not be as high in this match-up, but there is no secret that these two teams dislike each other. Here are some of the questions we answered in anticipation to tonight’s game:
Sam Esfandiari: Judging by Andrew Bogut’s quotes, I expect to see the Warriors work the ball inside out tomorrow. There has been a strong emphasis on not taking a quick shot, and trusting ball movement. For a preseason game, I expect Kerr to put more emphasis on the process than the results. Results will likely be mixed as it’s a stark contrast from how the team played last year. The key will be judging how they improve from the first preseason game to the last one.
J.M. Poulard: Although I don’t think we’ll see the entirety of what the offense has to offer, I believe some of the principles should be visible. The big thing I want to get a look at is the positioning of the big men. Andrew Bogut, David Lee and Draymond Green should operate in areas of the floor that provide spacing for the ball-handlers and shooters. So, I’m expecting to see the bigs around the elbows with some screen action on the wings.
Steven Quach: I’m excited to see if Kerr has some elements of the triangle offense in place. After hearing lots of reports of carelessness, I’m hoping to see Kerr’s emphasis on cutting down the turnovers. Expect to see pick and rolls and ball movement. I’m also dying to see David Lee’s improved midrange mechanics and Draymond as a stretch four.
2. Do you think tempers will flare between the Dubs and Clippers although it’s only a pre-season game?
Sam Esfandiari: Probably not. I don’t anticipate anyone will play much beyond 20 minutes. A lot of the backups will get extended runs so the staff can evaluate them. Kerr doesn’t need to see Curry or Bogut play 36 minutes to know what they are capable of. I anticipate both teams starters tempo won’t be full game speed with more emphasis on working on continuity. That said, they did rack up 16 technicals in games against each other last season, and they openly discuss not liking each other. So while it’s unlikely tempers will flare up to playoff level intensity, I don’t count out the possibility.
J.M. Poulard: Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green will get a flagrant and technical foul each in layup lines. So yes, It’s probably safe to say things will get heated, even in a preseason game.
Steven Quach: I definitely think there will be some tension and intensity to start the game but I won’t expect the passion and tenacity to stay for long. I know the roster will still have the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths; Staples is where they played their final game last season in that heartbreaking loss leading to an early playoff exit. The regulars will play somewhere between 20 and 24 minutes plus this is only the first pre-season game and the training camp invites should see ample playing time.
3. Which training camp invite that’s fighting for a roster spot will have the biggest impact in tonight’s game?
Sam Esfandiari: Probably Aaron Craft. With Livingston’s injury and Nedovic’s disappointing play to date, there is room for the Warriors to consider using a final roster spot on another ball handler. Craft has his flaws, but effort level is certainly not one of them. I expect to see Craft all over the place trying to make plays on both ends. In a preseason game, sometimes just playing with the highest motor is enough to have a profound impact on the result.
J.M. Poulard: Honestly, I’m not sure any of the invitees have much of a big impact. I’m actually more interested in seeing what Brandon Rush looks like. In his last healthy stint with the Dubs, he was your prototypical 3-and-D guy, which Golden State will certainly welcome. If he shows any signs of that, might go a long way in helping out the team during the regular season.
Steven Quach: After seeing Justin Holiday play in the Vegas Summer League, I think he will be here to stay. Not only did he steal the show with his ability to score, he also proved to be an adequate defender. Standing at 6 feet 6 inches, he matches up well with other shooting guards (e.g., Kobe 6’6’’, Wade 6’4’’). He’s a terrific three point shooter and plays with high basketball IQ.