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Round 1 Game 3 Clippers-Warriors preview -- Hostile territory

The Clippers and Warriors series head to Oakland with their series tied a game apiece, but the Clippers have the momentum after a 40 point romp in Game 2.

Stephen Dunn
2014 NBA Playoffs
First Round

Game 3 - April 24th, 2014, 7:30 PM
Prime Ticket, TNT, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Series Schedule
Series tied 1-1
Game 1 - Sat April 19 in Los Angeles,  Warriors 109-Clippers 105
Game 2 - Mon April 21 in Los Angeles, Clippers 138-Warriors 98
Game 3 - Thu April 24, 7:30 p.m., TNT, Oakland, ORACLE Arena
Game 4 - Sun April 27, 12:30 p.m., ABC, Oakland, ORACLE Arena
Game 5  Tue April 29, Time TBD, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
Game 6*  Thu May 1, Time TBD, Oakland, ORACLE Arena
Game 7 * Sat May 3, Time TBD, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
* if necessary
Win-Loss Breakdown Regular Season
21-9 East 20-10
36-16 West 31-21
34-7 Home 27-14
23-18 Road 24-17
25-18 .500+ 19-25
32-7 .500- 32-6
7-3 L10 6-4
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Stephen Curry
J.J. Redick SG Klay Thompson
Matt Barnes SF Andre Iguodala
Blake Griffin PF David Lee
DeAndre Jordan C Jermaine O'Neal
Key Reserves
Darren Collison PG Steve Blake
Jamal Crawford SG Jordan Crawford
Danny Granger SF Harrison Barnes
Hedo Turkoglu PF Draymond Green
Glen Davis C Marreese Speights
Advanced Stats 2013-2014 Regular Season
98.39 (7th of 30) Pace 98.53 (6th of 30)
109.4 (1st of 30) ORtg 105.3 (12th of 30)
102.1 (7th of 30) DRtg 99.9 (3rd of 30)
Andrew Bogut (broken rib) out

Festus Ezeli (knee surgery) out

The Back Story (The teams split the regular season series 2-2):

Date Venue Final

10/31/13 Los Angeles Clippers 126, Warriors 115 Recap Box
12/25/13 Oakland Warriors 105, Clippers 103 Recap Box
01/30/14 Oakland Warriors 111, Clippers 92 Recap Box
03/12/14 Los Angeles Clippers 111, Warriors 98 Recap Box

The Big Picture:

After losing Game 1 amid foul trouble for Blake Griffin and a blown call by the officials, the Clippers stormed back in Game 2 and humiliated the Warriors by 40 points. It was the largest margin of victory for the Clippers in the postseason in franchise history (by 15 points in fact). It was the largest margin of defeat in the postseason for the Warriors in over four decades. But even though the Clippers have a net advantage in the series of 36 points, it the games, split 1-1, that really matter. Then again, Game 1 felt like an outlier, and while the Clippers won't win every game by 40, they certainly have the talent advantage in the series. Golden State mostly won on their defense during the regular season -- and the Clippers just hung a buck thirty eight on them -- in the playoffs. We've said all season that the Clippers have a lot of weapons, and with all of the injuries they've suffered, we've really never seen all of them -- until now. Again, you're not going to have many games where almost everyone plays great on offense, but I'd say the Game 2 situation of multiple strong shooting performances in the same game is probably more likely than the Game 1 scenario of almost everyone having an off night. The only fly in the Clippers ointment right now (aside from the obvious fact that they do have to win in Oakland) is the status of Chris Paul, who sat out practice the last two days to rest a strained hamstring. He is planning to play tonight and says he's fine.

The Antagonist:

The Warriors will try to just put Game 2 behind them. Sometimes it's easier to ignore a terrible loss like that than it is to let go of a a close loss. They needed one win in Los Angeles and they got it, so if they can just manage to win their home games, they'll advance. That's what they're telling themselves anyway. In reality, it's hard to ignore how thoroughly they were dismantled on Monday. They'll no doubt start with turnovers in their discussion of what needs to improve; the Clippers' 15 steals on Monday were a huge part of the final result. The biggest concern for the Warriors however will be that, aside from the third quarter on Saturday, when frankly the game was already out of reach, Steph Curry has been beyond contained. Or maybe that's the biggest worry for the Clippers, since it seems unlikely that he'll remain contained the entire series. If Curry gets going and the Warriors outmanned bigs can at least put up a little resistance to Griffin and Jordan then the Warriors are back in business. But their best hope may be that the officials take Griffin out of the game again.

The Subplots

  • Series preview. Be sure to review the series preview which contains some of the overarching points for the series. I won't repeat those points here.
  • Road wins. How important is home court advantage in the playoffs? Not very, based on what's happened so far. Road teams have won more games than home teams in the first pairs of games, and Miami is the only home team to have held home court so far. The Bulls and Rockets both lost a pair at home, and all the other series are all split. The Clippers, as it happens, are the only Western Conference team to have won Game 2. We knew the West was crazy good, and the favorites are beginning to find out just how good. The Clippers may have looked vulnerable after their Game 1 loss, but they look much less vulnerable than any other West team after Game 2.
  • At the Roaracle. The Clippers do not have the best record in Oakland. They've lost five straight there and haven't won there since Christmas 2011 -- Chris Paul's first game as a Clipper. They've also lost 15 of 17 in Oakland going back nine seasons. BUT -- those losses prior to the Paul/Griffin era aren't particularly relevant, and it's not as if the Warriors dominated the Clippers this season in Oakland. The Clippers would probably have won the Christmas game had the refs not ejected Griffin and Paul didn't play in the second meeting. Look at it this way -- the Clippers and Warriors are 3-3 in six games this season, but the Clippers are 3-0, all by double digits, in games where Paul and Griffin have been available the entire game.
  • Leading scorers. The Clippers put up 138 points on Monday, and they did it while three of their top four scorers were having relatively quiet nights. Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford each averaged over 15 points per game on the season, but at 12, nine and nine respectively, they were all well below their average. Instead, Blake Griffin had a monster game (35 points in 30 minutes, 13-17 from the field) and a whole bunch of other guys came through with big nights. In fact, the balance behind Griffin was pretty amazing, as eight other Clippers scored between nine and 15 points, led by Danny Granger (15), Matt Barnes (13) and Hedo Turkoglu (13).
  • Hedo. How good has Hedo been? It's time to admit that I was wrong about this signing. I wondered at the time why the Clippers would use a roster spot on a player who appeared more than done the last couple of seasons (both in the NBA and in international competitions with Team Turkey) but he's been terrific. The most pleasant surprise has been his rebounding, where his 8.2 boards per 36 has been far better than his career number of 5.4, and in fact is the best per minute rebounding season of his career. It's still not a good average for a power forward, but it's flat out great for a small forward, and a pleasant surprise regardless. And then there's the three point shooting, which has been particularly good lately. Heading into the playoffs, with all 14 roster players finally all healthy at the same time, I wasn't sure who on the roster would be 10th man, and who would end up 11th and out of the rotation. Well, Jared Dudley is odd man out, and Hedo seems bound and determined to actually force Doc Rivers to continue to play 10 men.
  • CP3's hammie. Chris Paul tweaked his hamstring in Game 1 and he sat out the last two days of practice to let it rest. Hamstrings can be tricky -- my favorite player, Kevin Johnson, missed significant time because of hamstring injuries and was never really the same player again -- but Paul's "injury" seems pretty minor. He suffered it in Game 1, but continued to play and started Game 2. Modern therapies for these injuries are pretty amazing, and with two days of no practice, Paul is surely feeling much better. He insists he'll be fine for Game 3 -- and I tend to believe him.
  • It's getting chippy. I'll admit that I didn't fully realize everything that was going on in Game 2 until I got a chance to re-watch the game on television the next day. For instance, watching live, I didn't realize that the double technicals called were on Jermaine O'Neal and Doc Rivers -- O'Neal was jawing with his former coach, who was giving it right back! O'Neal's got the mouth of a former All Star -- but nothing close to the game anymore. He's taking himself out of this series with his nonsense. Jackson's team got shown up on Monday, and he doesn't like that -- plus he's enough of a dick to have his team do something stupid. Jordan Crawford's body check on Darren Collison (with less than a minute left and a 38 point deficit) would qualify as something stupid, but don't be surprised if the Warriors come out with elbows flying tonight.
  • Mismatches. The Warriors tried to exploit the wing mismatches like Iguodala on Redick or Crawford, Thompson on Paul, etc. again in Game 2 but it just didn't work. The Warriors certainly aren't at their best when Iggy is going one-on-one, so I think Rivers would welcome that strategy.
  • Splash Brothers? Steph Curry has 38 points in the two games combined; Klay Thompson has just 29. Curry's 20 point third quarter on Monday came while Thompson was scoreless. So far the Clippers have managed to keep one or both of the Splash Brothers under wraps at all times. If they continue to do that, they'll certainly win the series.
  • Connections. Clippers super sub Jamal Crawford spent most of a season in Oakland between his stints in New York and Atlanta. Matt Barnes really solidified himself as a viable NBA player on the We Believe Warriors of the 2007 playoffs. Steve Blake will spend the trade deadline to the end of the season with the Warriors this year, just as he did with the Clippers in 2010. Warriors coach Mark Jackson was a Clipper in the early 90s. The two coaches tonight were traded for each other back in 1992, with Rivers leaving and Jackson joining the Clippers. Harrison Barnes and Clippers rookie Reggie Bullock were teammates for a season at North Carolina when they were both freshman. The Clippers can thank the Warriors for DeAndre Jordan's current contract, as he signed an offer sheet with Golden State in 2011 which the Clippers matched.
  • Get the Warriors perspective at Golden State of Mind.