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Preview: Clippers look for first win against Warriors

Coming off two disappointing losses, the Clippers hope to win against the NBA's best team.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
2015-16 NBA Regular Season
Golden State Warriors (63-7)

Los Angeles Clippers (43-26)
March 23, 2016 — 7:30 PM PST
Oracle Arena — Los Angeles, CA
Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16)
63-7 Record 43-26
25-2 East 20-8
38-5 West 23-18
14-1 Division 7-5
32-0 Home 22-12
31-7 Road 21-14
30-4 .500+ 17-18
33-3 .500– 26-8
5-0 OT 4-1
8-2 L10 4-6
Projected Starters
Steph Curry PG Chris Paul
Klay Thompson SG J.J. Redick
Harrison Barnes SF Paul Pierce
Draymond Green PF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
James Michael McAdoo C DeAndre Jordan
Efficiency Stats ('14-'15)
99.6 (2nd of 30) Pace 96.1 (13th of 30)
114.7 (1st) OffRtg 108.1 (7th)
103.6 (5th) DefRtg 104.4 (9th)
+11.1 NetRtg +3.7
Injury Report
Andrew Bogut (Left Foot) — Doubtful Jeff Green (Head) — Probable

Festus Ezeli (Knee) — Out

Andre Iguodola (Ankle) — Out

Blake Griffin (Wrist) — Out

After historically dominating the Association, the Warriors are suddenly "struggling" -€” losing twice this month in a blowout to the Lakers and being held to a season-low 79 points to the Spurs. With key players Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, and Festus Ezeli all missing time, Golden State's shooting, rebounding and margin of victory have dipped this month below their normal averages. Steph Curry has been particularly affected shooting significantly worse from the field and sinking only three total three pointers in his past two games.

While the 1-seed may seem ripe for an upset, the Clippers come in to tonight losing six of their past 10 games, including their most recent defeats to the shorthanded Grizzlies and Pelicans. Opponents have dominated the Clippers, outrebounding them by 13 on average in their last 10 games. With rebounds often resulting from energy and effort, the  mental condition of the Clippers has come under question. When asked if the Clippers are in a good spot mentally DeAndre Jordan answered, "I guess." In their last meeting before a potential playoff matchup, the Clippers will want to make a statement.

David v. Goliath In the three games between the two teams, the Warriors beat the Clippers with an average margin of victory at about four points.

In their first matchup in early November, the Clippers fell behind 17-points before storming back behind stellar bench play to take a 10-point lead into the fourth. The Warriors went on a 16-2 run in the final minutes, utilizing Curry in the pick-and-roll and Harrison Barnes scoring 10 of his 17 as the Warriors won 112-108.

The second game between the teams started as the Chris Paul show, but ended as the Curry clinic. It seems personal every time Paul plays elite point guards, and on November 19th, Paul scored 18-points in the first quarter going perfect from the field and single-handedly outscoring the Warriors at one point, 18-16.

After the Clippers built a 23-point lead in the first half, the inevitable Warriors run transpired. Like the previous game, the Warriors dominated the fourth quarter, making 11 of 15 shots and closing the game on a 25-8 run. The Warriors made eight of nine from range in the fourth, Curry scored 13 of his 40 in the final period, and Golden State won again 124-117.

The third game between the rivals was the first without Blake Griffin and the first this season without at least one Clippers double-digit lead. Golden State led virtually the entire game, winning 115-112, behind strong leading performances from supporting actors Green and Thompson. The second splash brother led the team in shot attempts, finishing with 32 points on 22 shots. Green started at center with Bogut missing an injury, and recorded a triple-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Goliath v. David Four inches and 35 pounds, that's the size difference between Green and Jordan. Two inches and 30 pounds separates Jordan from McAdoo. With Griffin injured and the Warriors playing without their top rotational centers, Jordan's potential impact is gigantic. For the Clippers to win, Jordan needs to exploit the biggest mismatch for the team. If he's minimized, the Clippers will try playing the Warriors brand, and that has not gone well for anybody the past season and a half.

On the glass against the Warriors, Jordan has compiled an average of 14.3 total rebounds and 5.3 offensive. Although the Clippers won the rebounding battle two of the three times, they've been outscored in the paint two of the three times, and by a rather large margin.

Enter Cole Aldrich.

The Jayhawk grad played eight minutes in the most recent game, and that figures to be higher this game. In his shortened performance, he scored 4 points and corralled 6 rebounds. If neither big proves to be effective, Jeff Green and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could be spotlighting at center.

Bracketology Joe Lunardi projects the Warriors as the number one overall seed, probably. The reigning champs already clinched a playoff spot, home court advantage in the first two rounds and a top-two seed.

The Warriors are four games ahead of the Spurs for the top seed, with two games remaining between the two. They need to win nine of the twelve remaining games they have to clinch, assuming everyone else wins out.

The Clippers are the team with the best record in the West yet to clinch a playoff birth. They are 19.5 games back of the Warriors, and five games back of the Thunder's current three seed positioning. With the team's recent skid, they have nearly secured the fourth spot with the depleted Grizzlies four games back.

The Clippers magic number to make the playoffs is four, and to clinch home court in the first round they need to win 10 of their final 13.