NBA Playoffs Preview: Clippers vs. Warriors
The playoffs are here, and both of these exciting teams are looking to make a name for themselves. Will the three-seeded Clippers prove triumphant? Or will the Warriors pull off the upset? Take a look below to find out.
Los Angeles Clippers (3)
Championship Odds: 17.1%
Golden State Warriors (6)
Championship Odds: 3.5%
Regular Season Series - Clippers 2, Warriors 2
In the regular season, the slated foes met twice in Los Angeles and twice in Oakland. They evenly split their four meetings, with both teams holding home court in every meeting. The winner of each game scored north of 100 points in their high-scoring affairs. In fact, in their four matchups, the Clippers averaged 108 points while the Warriors averaged just short of 108 themselves.
In their last meeting - in Los Angeles - the Clippers won 111-98. Steph Curry had his share of struggles in that game, as he only managed to tally 13 points, shooting 5 for 11 from the field. Blake Griffin exploded offensively with 30 points while grabbing 15 boards. DeAndre Jordan had an impact performance with 10 points, 11 boards and 6 blocks as the Clippers proved triumphant in the season finale.
How the Clippers Can Win
To win, the Clippers will need to get out in transition. In their two wins against the Warriors, the Clips averaged just over 118 points and 21 fast break points per game. They also had 48 points in the paint in both meetings in L.A., which, coupled with the previous two stats, shows the Clippers effectiveness on the break. By doing this, the Clippers would disallow the Warriors from setting up their much-improved defense while also pushing the pace in their favor. If "Lob City" breaks out, look out.
In addition to getting out on the break, the Clippers must also lock in on the Warriors two most deadliest weapons in the "Splash Brothers", Steph Curry and Klay Thompson . In each of the Clippers' two losses to the Warriors, one of the sharpshooters went off for 20-plus points. The Clippers must key in on Curry and Thompson if they want to avoid the first-round upset.
Clippers Player to Watch - Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford is the definition of an x-factor. He is more than capable of going off for 30 points on any given night. He averages 18 points per game and shoots 36% from three in his 30 minutes of playing time off the bench. The Sixth Man of the Year candidate has played a key role for the Clippers this year as a third scorer in support of Griffin and Paul. He can be somewhat inconsistent, and his nERD (2.5) and numberFire efficiency (.9) are evidence of that.
In the teams' first meeting in October, the only Clippers win he played in, Crawford played efficient ball, shooting 50% from the floor for 17 points. In the Clippers' two losses, Crawford scored 19 and 9 points respectively, but he shot an abysmal 10 of 30 from the field. If Crawford can come off the bench and take some of the scoring burden off Paul and Griffin, and do it efficiently, the Clippers will have a much better chance of putting up big numbers and getting the win.
How the Warriors Can Win
The Warriors will need to dominate down low in order to win. It's hard to believe for some with Griffin and Jordan, but the Warriors have a big advantage down low. In the Warriors' two regular season wins against their playoff foes, Golden State out-rebounded the Clips 102-72 and out-scored them 118-60 in the paint. Both David Lee and Andrew Bogut have had great success against the Clippers and are a key reason why the aforementioned totals are so lopsided. So it's clear that if the Warriors play big on the boards and pound the ball on the block, they are very likely to win games and possibly the series
Warriors Player to Watch - David Lee
Lee is an unsung hero for the Golden State Warriors. The aforementioned Thompson and Curry usually steal the headlines with their three-point prowess, but Lee is a solid contributor for the Warriors and may be the most important player on their team. He's a pretty consistent player with a nERD of 6.0 and a numberFire efficiency of 2.1, too. Most importantly, he's been especially good against the Clips.
Lee averages just short of 22 points and 9 rebounds per game while shooting 38 for 65 against his in-state counterparts. Lee has scored near that average every game, but the difference in the Warrior's previous wins and losses is in Lee's rebound total. In their two losses, Lee averages just six rebounds. But in their two wins, Lee averaged double that - 12 rebounds per game. Lee is indeed a big part of what the Warriors try to do on a nightly basis, especially against the Clippers, but he must prove dominant against Griffin down low and win the rebound battle to give his team an edge.
In the end, I think the Clippers' high-powered offense, led by Paul, will prove too much for the Warriors. I think Griffin will be out to prove he's the third-best scorer in the league, and the Clippers will get passed the first round, something they failed to do last year.
According to our algorithms: Clippers in 5
My final prediction: Clippers in 6