The Warriors went into the playoffs as the sixth seed last season and knocked off the third-seeded Nuggets. They will attempt to do the same this year, though the competition will be different when they visit the third-seeded Clippers in the opener of a seven-game series. The Clippers are primed for a deep playoff run and they brought in coach Doc Rivers in part for his experience in the playoffs.
Rivers is the biggest change from last spring, when the Clippers dropped a first round series to the Grizzlies under Vinny Del Negro, but he is not the only difference. The Clippers led the league in scoring and became a defensive force as the season progressed and DeAndre Jordan embraced becoming an enforcer and rim protector. The Warriors will have trouble finding anyone who can match up directly with Jordan, as Andrew Bogut is out indefinitely after suffering a broken rib in the final week of the regular season.
These two teams did not get along very well during the regular season. Blake Griffin was tossed from the Christmas night meeting with the Warriors after drawing a pair of technical fouls and all four meetings, which were split 2-2, were tense.
Much of the responsibility for guarding Blake Griffin will fall to David Lee, who worked his way back into the lineup in three games down the stretch after missing time with nerve irritation in his upper hamstring. Jermaine O’Neal could take Andrew Bogut’s place in the starting lineup unless the Warriors decide to go smaller and use Draymond Green.
This promises to be a great playoff matchup. The guard play has made the battles between the Warriors and the Clippers quite compelling, and we can assume the trend will continue in this series. These are two of the best defensive teams in the league, but it hasn’t mattered when they’ve gone head-to-head, as the winner as scored over 110 points in three of the four regular season contests. Curry and Paul do a great job of pushing the pace, and their supporting casts are more than willing to get out and run with them.
Chris Paul has been sensational against Stephen Curry this season, and if that carries over to the playoffs, the Warriors will be going home early. Paul averaged 28 points, 12.7 assists and 3.7 steals on 47.3 percent shooting in three games against the Warriors, and if he is allowed to visit the spots he prefers on the floor, the Clippers will get all of the shots they want. Paul is incredibly difficult to corral as a playmaker, which allows role players to get easy looks.
Stephen Curry’s brilliant passing will certainly play an immense role in Golden State’s success, and so will his scoring. Simply put, Curry has to be the best player on the floor to give the Warriors a shot at winning this game.
According to the oddsmakers at America’s Bookie, the Clippers are 7-point favorites and the total is set at 211. Here you can check the daily NBA Basketball Betting Lines at America’s Bookie.
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Western Conference First Round – Game 1
3:30 PM ET, April 19
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