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Preview: Division-Leading Clippers Host Lackadaisical Warriors

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The Warriors haven’t yet put it all together this season, but they represent the Clippers’ toughest challenge so far. Probably.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Picture:

Was it a trap game? Were the Clippers caught looking ahead? Had they grown cocky after a surprising 4-0 start? Whatever the answer, it doesn’t matter, because their worst habits surfaced in a Saturday night home loss to the Pistons, and here come the Warriors to capitalize. They don’t rip your scabs open so much as just cut your whole damn arm off. Late in your defensive rotation? Splash, three points. Are you a little tired? Going to just let your teammates get back and defend this one? Hey, look at all those Warriors sprinting the other way! The backs of their jerseys sure are pretty. Feeling a little indecisive about your passing? There goes your lunch. Hey, Andre Iguodala is eating it! Very little illuminates your shortcomings like the white hot Warriors spotlight. The Clippers are about to find out how far they’ve really come.

The Antagonist:

Lacking conditioning. Head Coach Steve Kerr has openly questioned his team’s preparation, or apparent lack thereof. But who can blame them? Three straight Finals appearances, two of those ending in victory, and the NBA’s regular season record for wins. They have length, chemistry, and an astounding collection of weaponry. (They added Nick Young and Omri Casspi this summer because wealth begets more wealth.) It hardly looks like they even need to TRY on offense. (And given their bottom-third ranking on defense, they’re definitely not trying there.) There are few problems they can’t pass their way out of. And those few remaining problems are usually solved by those two — three? — guys who conjure baskets from almost literally half of the floor. Coming off a game — a loss! — against the very-same Pistons and having to travel down state overnight, it’s an open question whether the Warriors will bring their best. The scary thing is, they’re so good, it may not even matter.

The Basics:

The Subplots: