Well, that was awful.
If you just watched that game and still found your way to this recap, you’re either a saint or a masochist. That said, try to keep a straight face as we examine what worked and what didn’t for each team.
Marreese Speights (17min, 14pts, 50% FG, 40% 3pt, 5 reb, 1 stl).
What Didn’t Work:
For a Clippers team who retained the majority of its core rotation, they looked very lost at both ends of the floor. Early on, their was some hope that the defensive intensity might pick up, and aside from some steals mostly due to a few Golden State lapses, it just never did. Against a Warriors roster who lost roughly half of its rebounding and shot-blocking in the offseason, the Clippers couldn’t capitalize on their interior presence. Blake Griffin got a lot of touches early on, but his decisiveness was slow. The back-and-forth offensive movement between Griffin and Chris Paul in the first quarter was very predictable, and the Warriors had plenty of time just about every possession for pre-emptive adjustments. Paul and Griffin, both coming off of postseason-ending injuries, get a slight pass for their lack of energy and burst at both ends; their foul trouble was a clear indicator of their conditioning at this point. But floor-spacing was an issue from tip-off for the Clippers and adjustments never seemed to take place.
When the second-unit began making its way onto the floor, first with Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford and followed shortly thereafter by Speights, it looked like the Clippers had injected some energy and life into its rotation. By the time Brandon Bass and Wesley Johnson made their way in to round out the full bench rotation, they appeared to gel and move much more fluidly together, especially in transition. Despite Speights’ activity at both ends of the floor and his quick offensive help, nobody else would follow suit. By halftime, the Clippers were already down 33-71, and Speights was the only player on the floor in double-digits.
The second half was just more of the same; numerous careless turnovers (21 total at the final buzzer), and isolation plays hurt the Clippers. But what hurt them the most was allowing the Warriors to score so often and so easily in transition; the Warriors scored 30 fast-break points (the Clippers, by stark contrast, had only 4). To top it all off, by the time the starters and secondary players made their way off the floor, Paul Pierce hobbled out onto the floor along with some of the younger/fringe players to play garbage time/consolation minutes. Outside of some late offense from Alan Anderson and Xavier Munford, nothing went well for the Clippers. This is one they’re just going to have to forget about.
Everything. In front of a pumped-up home crowd, against a very familiar foe, the Warriors stepped on the gas early-on and never let go. Kevin Durant hit the inaugural 2016-17 Oracle Arena points with an open 3-pointer, followed by deafening applause from the home crowd. The Warriors, who moved the ball well all night (29 assists on 37 shots-made), got everything they wanted. Durant, known for his offensive brilliance, played well at both ends of the floor, reminding us all that he’s a better defender than we remembered. And as expected, Klay Thompson could not be contained; in just north of 20 minutes played, he scored 30 points, 18 of which came from behind the arc, where he made 6-of-9. Thompson, Durant, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry, and Andre Iguodala accounted for 77 of the team’s 120 total points. (The Clippers only scored 75 as a team).
What Didn’t Work:
JaVale McGee’s hair.
And thank goodness this game was meaningless, right? I don’t think anyone predicted the final outcome, but it’s going to be a long and fun, sometimes grueling, NBA season. Save all of your hot takes, relax, and just know that the Clippers will likely never play this bad again during the regular season. This Clippers roster has much higher potential than what they displayed tonight…and thank goodness for Mo’ Buckets!