Clippers Vs. Warriors - Game Preview - LA Opens Six Game Home Stand

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 20: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors and Chris Paul #3 and Mo Williams #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers go for a loose ball at Oracle Arena on February 20, 2012 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
2011/2012 NBA Regular Season
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vs.
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23-15
16-21
STAPLES Center
March 11th, 2012, 6:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Chris Paul PG Monta Ellis
Randy Foye SG Dorell Wright
Caron Butler SF Dominic McGuire
Blake Griffin PF David Lee
DeAndre Jordan C Ekpe Udoh

The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

The Clippers recent run of poor play that resulted in six losses in nine games began with back-to-back losses against San Antonio and Golden State. It would be somehow fitting if they could start a run of great play with back-to-back wins over the same two teams. It may or may not be the catalyst for a particularly strong stretch, but as for the back-to-back wins, the hard part is done. Beating the Spurs in San Antonio is a significantly tougher assignment than beating the Warriors in LA. This would be a great time to put together a winning streak -- the first game of a season-high six game home stand. That's more home games in eight days than they played in the entire month of February. Even with their home-friendly January schedule, though they played 10 of 12 games at home in one sequence, they never had more than four home games in a row. It's also worth noting that while for much of the season, the Clippers had played many more home games than road games, the reverse is now true -- the Clippers have played on 17 games at home compared to 21 on the road. Of course, it's not enough simply to play games at home, you have to win them as well. After opening the season with 10 wins in their first 12 games, they lost 3 of 5 home games in February. That trend needs to be reversed -- the Clippers need to become a dominant home team as they were early in the season.

The Antagonist:

The Warriors are a difficult team to figure this season. They have some very impressive wins to their credit, but can't seem to sustain any kind of consistent success. Part of that has to do with the fact that Stephen Curry has been in and out of the lineup with ankle injuries. He has missed 13 games this season spread across three separate incidents -- and he left Golden State's win over Dallas last night in the third quarter after tweaking the same ankle. There's currently no word on how serious it is, but he did not return to the Dallas game, and given that he had only been back in the lineup for three games, you might suspect that the team would choose to take a conservative approach with him tonight. After all, something is clearly not right with his ankle, which is a real shame because he's a truly marvelous player. The Warriors have some other pretty good players as well. When they beat the Clippers three weeks ago, LA couldn't contain Monta Ellis (32 points) and second year player Ekpe Udoh scored a career high 19. David Lee has been very effective this season as well. But defense and rebounding have been Golden State's issues this season -- they're 28th in the league in defensive rebounding and 26th in defensive efficiency.

The Subplots

  • Tonight's Special Guest Recapper - Citizen Ricekrispy10. We've got a rookie recapper tonight. Good luck in your first NBA start, Citizen.
  • Clips Nation Night 2012. Tonight is Clips Nation Night! We're meeting at the ESPNZone across from STAPLES Center at LA Live at 4 PM. Looking forward to see everyone there!
  • Warriors Q&A. Since we had such success answering community submitted questions for the Spurs game, we did it again for the Warriors. Nate from the SBNation Warriors blog Golden State of Mind will be answering your questions and I am answering questions from the GSoM community. Keep checking for those posts here and at Golden State of Mind for the answers -- I'm not certain when they'll be posted. [Note by Steve Perrin, 03/11/12 12:10 PM PDT ] We now have Nate and Evans answers to your questions as well as my answers to GSoM's questions..
  • Key Warriors metrics:
    Pace: 92.2 (10th of 30 NBA Teams)
    Off Rtg: 105.1 (9th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 108.0 (26th of 30)
    Despite promises from Mark Jackson that he was going to improve the defense, Golden State remains among the worst in the league.
  • Key Clippers metrics:
    Pace: 89.8 (26th of 30)
    Off Rtg: 108.3 (4th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 105.8 (21st of 30)
    Since playing the Warriors three weeks ago, the Clippers defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) has gone from 104.5 to 105.8 -- which means that while there were bad on defense before, they've been terrible in the past three weeks. The offense continues to be near the top of the league, but the defense has simply got to get better.
  • Are you ready for some basketball? Tonight's game marks the beginning of a completely insane stretch of games where the Clippers play 9 games in the next 12 days. That's almost a third of their entire remaining schedule -- in less than two weeks. It starts with three home back-to-backs with a single day off between each game. The truth is, these are the good times -- sure they are playing back-to-backs, but at least they aren't taking airplanes in between. They'd better make the most of these six, because the road back-to-back-to-back that immediately follows this home stand is going to be brutal.
  • Standings. Even as the Clippers have lost 6 of their last 10 games, they remain in first place in the Pacific Division and third place in the Western Conference. That's primarily due to the fact that none of the Western Conference teams around them in the standings have been that much better in recent weeks. The Grizzlies are the one team that has made a run, taking over third place in the West for a day. But the Clippers win in San Antono, followed by a Memphis loss in Phoenix last night, has the LAC back in third. During this six game home stand is the time to solidify that position, and maybe even make a run at the Spurs. The Lakers game against Boston a few hours earlier in the day could put them in first at least until the end of the Clippers-Warriors game, but maybe the Celtics will help us out.
  • My favorite in game NBA dunk of all time. Since the Warriors coach is Mark Jackson, it gives me a reason to write about my favorite dunk of all time -- the time Tom Chambers of the Suns jumped over Jackson for a two handed finish. Griffin's dunk on Kendrick Perkins this year reminded me a bit of that dunk, because he each case, the presence of the defender seems to have pushed the dunker higher into their jump. In Chambers' case, it's obvious that he gets a little extra boost from the helpless Jackson -- by the time he dunked it, Chambers was in danger of hurting his elbows on the rim.
  • Hack-a-Clipper. On January 12th, Dwight Howard set an all time NBA record with 39 free throws because Mark Jackson employed the Hack-a-Dwight strategy. With one free throw shooter worse than Dwight (DeAndre Jordan) and one only slightly better, it's possible the Warriors will use a similar tactic tonight. He used it against DJ twice at the end of the first half in the last meeting -- and it worked better than anyone could ever have imagined, with an assist from the officials. Chris Paul tried to thwart the strategy by shooting simultaneous to the foul, but on the first foul the refs disallowed Paul's made half court shot, and on the second one they simply ignored the hack, allowing Golden State to rebound the miss and get another score. All told, it was a 5-1, referee-assisted close to the first half for the Warriors.
  • Regarding Paul. While we're on that subject, Paul may want to choose to revisit his penchant for hoisting crazy shots as fouls are being committed. Paul has always been hyper-savvy on the court, and going back to his New Orleans days he has frequently gone into a shooting motion when he thinks a foul is coming, no matter where he is on the court. He tried it Friday against San Antonio from the backcourt. The problem is, the NBA has as much as said that they won't be calling those shooting fouls anymore -- for both the rip through move and these CP3 specials, they're ruling them non-shooting foul, basically saying that it's not a legitimate shot attempt (they have a point of course). So, there's now very little potential for reward when he does it -- and the risk is that the whistle doesn't blow, as was the case with the foul on Jordan. Basically, he shouldn't be risking this gambit unless he actually hears the whistle -- in which case it would probably be too late to get the call anyway.
  • Griffin. In the loss three weeks ago, Blake Griffin scored 21 points on just 10 shots. Basically, the Warriors had no answer for him defensively. But Griffin was limited to 29 minutes because of foul trouble -- that's his second lowest minute total after the 27 he played in a blowout loss in Utah in which he sat the entire fourth quarter. Assuming he can stay on the floor, I expect Griffin to have a huge game.
  • Warriors back-to-back. The Warriors will be facing the Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Mavericks in Oakland last night. The good news for the Warriors is that they won by 24 and were able to keep their starters minutes down.
  • Nate Robinson. After being bought out by the Thunder just prior to the start of the season, Nate Robinson has found a home with the Warriors. He brings energy and offense off the bench, and in particular has been very helpful when Curry has been out. In last night's win over Dallas where Curry left in the third quarter and did not return, Robinson scored 21 points in just 25 minutes.
  • Ellis and Curry. Ellis and Curry combined to shoot 8 for 31 in the first meeting between these teams. They shot 14 for 26 in the second meeting. It's not very surprising that the Warriors lost the first game and won the second. Curry may not play, which will favor the Clippers for sure, but containing the Warriors guards will be key regardless.
  • Effin' Udoh. Ekpe Udoh made all five of his first quarter field goals, including a variety of jump hooks and face up jumpers, in the game three weeks ago. He doubled his season average in the first quarter, and quadrupled it in the game. At the time it seemed obvious that he had earned a spot as the Dubs starting center, since Andris Biedrins has been pretty useless. But for some reason Mark Jackson went back to Biedrins for a few games when he returned from injury. Finally, three games ago, Udoh became the starter.
  • Mark Jackson. Reviews are mixed on his first couple months as the Warriors head coach, but count me among the skeptics. This is Jackson's first coaching experience of any kind. He has never been a head coach, he has never been an assistant coach. Obviously he's been around the game, as a player and then as a TV analyst, but it's not the same thing. And if his TV work is any indication of the level of insight he has into the game, the Warriors are in trouble. Doc Rivers aside, ex-players who move straight into the first chair without first serving an apprenticeship are rarely successful (see Del Negro, Vinny).
  • Jackon vs. Del Negro on the court. I always find it interesting to look at the history of coaches who were former players against each other. Mark Jackson and Vinny Del Negro were in the NBA together for a dozen seasons, and faced each other 25 times. As you might expect Jackson held the statistical advantage in those matchups -- his teams also won 14 of the 25 games.
  • Three point shooting - Golden State is fourth in the league in three point percentage, making 38.5%. A team that already had some shooters, the highest three point percentages on the team belong to newcomers Brandon Rush and Klay Thompson. Rush (3rd), Thompson (5th) and Curry (7th) are all in the top ten in the league in three point percentage, and Dorell Wright made more threes than any player in the league last season. So you must stay glued to these guys.
  • From the Urban Dictionary:

    warrior

    n. Warriors are men and woman that are fearless, strong and skill fighters that are lacking in our modern times.

    The Vikings were true warriors.
  • Get the Warriors perspective at Golden State of Mind
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