Clippers at Warriors - Game Preview

2010/2011 NBA Regular Season
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vs.
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0-1
1-0
Oracle Arena
October 29th, 2010, 7:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Baron Davis PG Stephen Curry
Eric Gordon SG Monta Ellis
Ryan Gomes
SF Dorell Wright
Blake Griffin
PF David Lee
Chris Kaman C Andris Biedrins

 

The Back Story:

  • First meeting of the season.  The teams split the season series last year 2-2.

The Big Picture:

The Blake Griffin era got off to a roaring start on Wednesday, as the delayed rookie went for 20 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists in his NBA debut.  Not bad I guess.  Unfortunately, it didn't result in a win, as the Clippers struggled to make shots all game long, in particular during a crucial six minute stretch of the fourth quarter.  Other than the terrible shooting - Chris Kaman was 4 for 18, Eric Gordon was great going to the rim, but missed every jump shot he took, as did Baron Davis and Ryan Gomes - there were many positives from the first game for the Clippers.  Golden State is a very different challenge though.  The Clippers go from playing the team with the slowest pace in the league last season, to the team with the highest pace.  This one will be a shoot out, and if the young Clippers aren't careful, the Warriors could run them right out of their building.  

The Antagonist:

Golden State made some changes during the off season, but in many ways they're the same old Warriors.  If you thought that they were going to play at a slower pace this season under Keith Smart now that  Don Nelson is no longer the coach, their 132-128 win over Houston on Wednesday should have disavowed you of that notion.  132-128!  That's like an old ABA score.  While most of the signifcant player movement this offseason was from West to East, there was one All Star that moved West - former Knick David Lee.  It's clear that you want Lee on your fantasy basketball team - he's going to put up impressive numbers in the Warriors uptempo style.  Whether he can help a good team win basketball games remains to be seen.  Even with Lee, the Warriors will be a guard dominated team.  Stephen Curry may turn out to be the second best player from the 2009 draft (after Blake Griffin, and yes, I think he can be better than Tyreke Evans), and Monta Ellis is one of the flat out best scorers in the league - and to prove he's still got it, he put up 46 on Wednesday.  On the other hand, the Warriors bench looks positively anemic.  Among the changes (new players, new owners, etc.)  the best change of all has to be their logo.  Looking at this one next to that stupid cartoon thing they've used for the last decade or so, this is so much better.  And it fits so well with the roots of the franchise.  Well played Warriors.  Well played.

 

The Subplots

  • Early season schedule.  I'm very concerned about the Clippers early season schedule.  I almost wish it was harder.  At the Spurs or at the Lakers - those are games they're not likely to when no matter when they play them.  But having the Blazers at home or the Warriors on the road - these are theoretically winnable games.  However, coming so early in the season, before the team has had an opportunity to gel, they could well be losses (as indeed Wednesday was).  That makes them not just losses, but lost opportunities, which is even worse.
  • Rebounding.  The Clippers allowed Portland to get way too many offensive rebounds on Wednesday, which really hurt the team.  The Warriors are clearly not the Blazers in that regard, but they're also a much better rebounding club with Lee this season than they have been in the past.  With Lee at the power forward alongside Biedrins, Golden State is actually starting a lineup that looks, dare I say, conventional - no more Corey Maggette at the four.  Lee is a rebounding machine, and watching Lee and Griffin fight for boards tonight will definitely be a treat.
  • De-fense!  Stopping the Warriors guards is no small task, and a key to the game is how the Clippers guards handle it.  Interestingly, Gordon was a teammate of Curry this summer with Team USA, and Davis and Ellis were teammates for a couple of seasons in Oakland.  They may or may not match up that way, but it would be interesting to see those battles of former teammates.
  • Speaking of Team USA.  You'll recall that Eric Gordon and Stephen Curry were reported to be on the bubble together during qualifying for Team USA.  The conventional wisdom, which turned out to be plenty conventional but not very wise, was that there was room for one of them on the roster as the designated shooter, but not for both.  When both were kept, many people thought that Curry would be ahead of Gordon on the depth chart, which also proved incorrect.  Gordon beat out Curry for playing time based on his defense, and on the fact that in Turkey, he shot every bit as well if not better than Curry.  They're very different players (which is why the either/or talk was so strange) - both great shooters, if Curry is probably a bit better.  Curry is a much better playmaker, but Gordon is better at getting to the rim.  While it's nice that Gordon outplayed Curry for Team USA, we'd really like to see him outplay him tonight.
  • Pick and roll.  When Lee signed with the Warriors, I expected the Curry/Lee combination to become a tough pick and roll cover.  Lee sets great screens, and you can't afford to go under the screen with Curry or he'll kill you on jumpers.  He's also an adept passer and can hit the roll man in stride.  In game one, it was the Monta show, but this combo could be lether lethal as well.
  • Kaman.  After having an absolutely outstanding pre-season, Chris Kaman had a nightmare of a game on opening night.  He went 4 for 18, which included 1 of his last 10.  He was automatic from 18 feet in pre-season, but he made only one of his face up jumpers against the Blazers.  Fans were booing in the fourth quarter, and some citizens were upset with the play calling that went to Kaman down the stretch, but seriously, he was getting great shots.  They just didn't go in.  I guarantee you that the Clippers were happy with the shots Kaman was getting.  Like the rest of us, they'd have been a lot happier had the shots gone in.  Surely he'll bounce back with a big game against the Warriors.  It's worth noting that in his last meeting with the Warriors, Kaman had 27 points, two shy of his career high.  Of course, that team didn't have Biedrins or Lee.
  • Baron the former Warrior.  Since joining the Clippers, Baron Davis has been something of a disappointment to be sure.  However, he's played very well against his former team.  Baron has scored 29, 25, 25, 25 and 21 in five of the seven games he's played against Golden State as a Clipper.  
  • Warriors Bench.  The Warriors added Lee this summer, but they also lost a bunch of players.  Anthony Randolph went to the Knicks in the Lee sign and trade, and while Randolph missed 39 games last season, this time last year the organization thought he was a key part of their future.  They also lost Corey Maggette, Anthony Morrow, Anthony Tolliver and C.J. Watson, getting little or nothing in return for each.  That's five players who averaged double figures for Golden State last year (including Maggette who was their second leading scorer at almost 20 per game).  Last year, the Warriors bench was suspect because so many players were hurt.  This year, it's just plain suspect.
  • Blake Superior.  As great as Blake Griffin was on Wednesday, didn't you get the impression that we were only scratching the surface?  He had 14 rebounds - and may have gotten his hands on ten more that the super long Blazers managed to poke away from him.  The Clippers could have gotten him the ball more as well.  I think I said that Blake could average 16 and 12 just on put backs and fast breaks - well, he got 20 and 14, and it was mostly on put backs and fast breaks.  I don't think either Lee or Biedrins can handle him, and there certainly isn't anyone on the bench who can - let's see what happens when you feed the beast.
  • Superstar for one game.  Reggie Williams.  He's a great scorer, and he's lit up the Clippers before.
  • Famous Quotation: 

    Fierce fiery warriors fought upon the clouds,
    In ranks and squadrons and right form of war,
    Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol.

    William Shakespeare - Julius Cæsar. ACT II Scene 2. (Two straight quotes from the same Shakespeare play.  Spooky.)
  • Get the Warriors perspective at Golden State of Mind.
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