Sheer entertainment: Win or lose, this game is probably going to be a ton of fun to watch from a pure basketball perspective. Clippers-Warriors games have had a spark to them for years now, a spark which should only heat up this season after the Clippers’ hot start and quick anointment by some to “best team in basketball”. The Warriors, a team filled with players who get pumped up on supposed slights, are sure to be coming at the Clippers hard. The Clippers have trouble “getting up” for some opponents, but should have no trouble with effort or motivation in this one. Chris Paul always takes matchups against other top point guards personally, and Steph Curry certainly falls under that category. Both teams are going to be energized and playing at maximum capacity—basically, it’s playoff-level basketball in December. Can’t complain about that.
Chance for a statement win: While the Warriors are going to take this game very seriously, it’s a much more significant contest for the Clips. They have struggled against Golden State over the past couple years, always falling just short of victory. A win tonight would be a morale boost for the whole team, and should quiet any self-doubt that they can beat the Warriors on any given night. After the travails of the past couple weeks, a win over Golden State would also be hugely important in shutting up the doubters who still claim this is the same Clippers’ team of yesteryear. The Clippers keep insisting this year is different. One way to prove that: actually beating the Dubs.
Mo Speights against his old team: Mo Speights won a title with the Warriors, and was an integral part of their bench. However, they didn’t want to retain his services, and he joined the Clips on a veteran’s minimum contract instead. He is sure to be even more fired up than usual for this one (which is saying something), and that could be a really good or bad thing. He might devolve into a complete black hole and take 10 shots in five minutes…or he could channel his rage and play smart, going hard on defense even if his shot isn’t falling. Regardless, I can’t wait to see him take the floor against Golden State.
Media coverage if the Clips lose: If the Clippers lose, the worst part about it will be how bad they are going to get slammed by the media and “basketball intelligentsia”. All the “they really aren’t that good”, and “this is the same team as last year”, and even “they should trade Blake Griffin” takes are going to come out of the woodwork, and it will be awful. The Clippers are still one of the most disliked teams in the NBA, and hitting them while they are down is a favorite pastime of many members in the basketball media. A Clippers loss to the Warriors, especially if it’s a blowout, would bring barbs and snide remarks beyond count. It’s just another reason why the Clippers need to win tonight.
The Warriors are really good: I mean, this was to be expected. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry are probably the two best shooters of all time, and Klay Thompson is in the top five somewhere. Their offense was always going to end being insane, and it has been so far. The good news is that the Dubs defense is merely good instead of great. The Clippers must take advantage of that defense, and their bench needs to step up against a Golden State bench that isn’t the greatest (though Kerr does do a great job of staggering his stars in with the reserves… please take notes Doc). The glaring issue when playing the Warriors is defending them, and I’m fascinated to see what lineups and defensive matchups Doc is going to try out there. I really hope he experiments a lot, even if it results in some decisions that end up being poor.
Watching Patrick McCaw play on the Warriors: I loved McCaw before the draft, and wanted the Clippers to draft him desperately. Instead, they traded down, and the Warriors bought into the draft for him. McCaw hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire, but has been a very solid rotation player for a great team… which is really nice for a rookie 2nd round pick. His defense is already good, he has a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio, and he has hit 38% of his three pointers. All on a small sample size, but still. I don’t know if he would have fit into the Clips’ rotation this year, but he looks extremely promising, and that makes me sad. Let’s just hope one of Diamond Stone or David Michineau pans out!!
Having to watch Draymond Green: We all hate him, and for good reason. If he kicks a Clipper player anywhere close to a sensitive spot, I’m going to be absolutely infuriated. I hope he misses all his shots and kicks a teammate instead.