|2015/2016 NBA Regular Season|
|November 4, 2015 | 7:30 PM (PT)|
|ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA|
|ESPN, Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM|
|Win-Loss Breakdown (2015-16 Regular Season)|
|Chris Paul||PG||Stephen Curry|
|J.J. Redick||SG||Klay Thompson|
|Lance Stephenson||SF||Harrison Barnes|
|Blake Griffin||PF||Draymond Green|
|DeAndre Jordan||C||Festus Ezeli|
|Advanced Stats (2015-2016 Regular Season)|
|103.7 (8th of 30)||Pace||104.7 (6th of 30)|
|105.0 (5th of 30)||ORtg||115.2 (1st of 30)|
|94.8 (10th of 30)||DRtg||88.5 (2nd of 30)|
Andrew Bogut (Concussion) Questionable
The Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors aren't particularly fond of one another. The two teams have risen to prominence simultaneously after decades of being NBA doormats, and that ascension has helped to create a real rivalry between the teams. The Clippers ejected the Warriors from the playoffs back in April of 2014, only to see Golden State get the last laugh with their championship this past summer. On the heels of Doc Rivers' now infamous (and misconstrued) "lucky" comments, the Warriors have been relentlessly lobbing verbal grenades in the Clippers' direction throughout training camp. Andrew Bogut even had his championship ring fitted for his middle finger, which is quite obviously meant to be a taunt to LAC and all other perceived doubters. Now, the teams are set to square-off in a battle of the last two Western Conference unbeatens tonight in Oakland.
What's New With The Warriors?
The Warriors won 67 regular season games before essentially coasting through the playoffs for a title. As a result, they obviously had very little incentive to change too much during the offseason. The only real notable departure from the roster was David Lee, who had been Golden State's longest-tenured player prior to having his role diminished with the emergence of Draymond Green last season. The Dubs added Jason Thompson via trade and drafted UCLA's Kevon Looney, though neither have figured much into their early-season rotation. Thompson has played just 16 minutes over the course of the first four games, while Looney remains sidelined indefinitely after offseason hip surgery.
They're also currently without their head coach, Steve Kerr, who is recovering from back surgery. Former Lakers spare Luke Walton has taken over for Kerr in the interim, and the team obviously hasn't missed a beat. There is still no timetable for Kerr's return to the sidelines.
What Happened Here Last Year?
Golden State took the season series from Los Angeles 3-1 last year, with the lone Clipper victory coming in L.A. on Christmas night. The Warriors were uncharacteristically cold from the field that night, shooting just 42% from the floor and a putrid 21% from downtown. The 86 points they scored was easily a season-low. However, they were well over the 100-point plateau in each of their three victories over the Clippers, which included an early-season 121-104 drubbing at ORACLE last November.
Matchup To Watch
Stephen Curry vs. Chris Paul
The always entertaining/heated battle between Blake Griffin and Draymond Green will be thrilling, but Curry vs. Paul is what will largely dictate this one. Curry has started the season unbelievably hot. He's averaging an NBA-best 37 points per game on 59.5% field goal shooting, 48.8% three-point shooting and 96.4% foul shooting. Oh, and he's also averaging over six assists, five rebounds and 2.5 steals, too. To say he's been otherworldly would somehow be understating it.
So, Chris Paul will have his hands full. CP3 hasn't gotten off to the type of statistical start we're used to, but he really hasn't had to exert himself too much for the Clips to start 4-0, either. The shooting has been off (just 28% from deep so far), but it's safe to assume he'll round into form sooner than later. In the four tilts against Steph and the Warriors last year, the Clipper point guard averaged 19.5 points, nine assists and four boards per. Paul will undoubtedly be ready for this game, and I'd expect this to be night he truly breaks-out.
The Clippers have the blueprint for beating the Warriors. Taking Curry out of his comfort zone must be the primary objective. Unfortunately, so far this season, it seems like there's no limit to his comfort zone. He's making shots from everywhere. Guys like Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Green are plenty dangerous, but you'd obviously live with them taking the majority of the shots. Throwing an early double-team Curry's way may lead to open looks for others, but you have to pick your poison defensively. CP3 usually takes time to get others involved before asserting his will on the game, but he should be actively attacking Curry offensively in this one from the jump. Making Steph work hard defensively is a must. The interplay between these two will be fascinating to watch.
Both of these teams are heavily dependent on production from the starters, but they're also two of the deepest teams the league has to offer. Golden State may be shorthanded in the frontcourt with Andrew Bogut questionable, but this is a team that just won the Finals by "going small". They have the horses to play just about any style, and it's a nightmare of a matchup for any team. Festus Ezeli figures to get the start if Bogut sits, and he's coming off one of his best games as a pro. In the 50-point drubbing of the Grizzlies on Monday, Ezeli finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in just 20 minutes. Ezeli's promotion to the starting lineup would mean extra minutes to the irrationally-confident Marreese Speights, and we'd also likely see Andre Iguodala playing some power forward. Old friend Shaun Livingston (fresh off of whining about the Clippers after a preseason game) and ageless wonder Leandro Barbosa eat up the lion's share of backcourt minutes among Warrior reserves.
The revamped Clipper bench has already paid dividends. Wesley Johnson and Paul Pierce each gave LAC solid minutes off-the-bench in Monday's win over the Suns. There was an unusually heavy dosage of Jamal Crawford (26 minutes) in that game, though, which will hopefully not be the case against the Warriors. When his shot isn't falling, he's really giving the team nothing when he's on the floor. If the Clippers have any aspirations of winning this game they're going to need a stellar all-around defensive effort, which is something Crawford isn't capable of doing at this stage of his career.
Game Day Beer of Choice
Much like with Portland, the Bay Area is often associated with hipsters. An ironic mustache here, a beanie in the summer there, and flannel everywhere. So, with the Clips in Oakland tonight, it only makes sense to find a game day beer to enjoy from NorCal.
What about "Shades of Cool"? Sounds hipster enough for me! This one comes to us from The Rare Barrel brewing company, which sounds very counter-culture. Perfect. Here is the description for Shades of Cool, courtesy of BeerAdvocate.com:
Shades of Cool is a golden sour beer aged on oak barrels with black currents. We only made two oak barrels of this fruited sour, so enjoy it while it's here!
And here is a photo of the purplish beer:
It's so rare, they only made two oak barrels of it. So, you'd better get it while you can!
The Clippers and Warriors will get things going around 7:30pm tonight on ESPN and Prime Ticket. If you're one of the lucky few to get your hands on an ice cold bottle of Shades of Cool, pop it open and root for the Clippers with us. This one will be fun.