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Game Preview: Depleted Clippers Host First-Place Warriors

This is gonna be a tough one.

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Look, these games are never fun.

In 2014, the Clippers knocked the Golden State Warriors out in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Warriors fired Mark Jackson, hired Steve Kerr, and became the best team in the history of basketball. Since then, everything has sucked.

Golden State has won the last 11 head-to-head contests, and the last 6 by double figures—including a 46-point beatdown last January and a 28-point blowout in their only match-up so far this season.

The Clippers will have the same tough task tonight that every team faces against the Warriors: stop the most potent offensive attack that any NBA team has ever featured. Steph Curry is the greatest shooter to ever play the game, and Klay Thompson is pretty damn good too. Even without Kevin Durant—one of the best players in the league—they feature Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green, a pair of playmaking forwards who are among the best defenders in the league. If you try to force the ball out of their stars’ hands, you’ll find elite shooters and finishers like Omri Casspi, Nick Young, JaVale McGee, David West, and Sean Livingston. Oh, and if you are somehow competitive, Zaza Pachulia will make sure to rough you up.

Frankly, even at full strength this match-up is a next-to-impossible one for the Clippers. But take away their two best perimeter defenders (Patrick Beverley and Austin Rivers), along with their best passer (Milos Teodosic) and starting small forward (Danilo Gallinari), and you have a depleted team who will start Jawun Evans (a second-round rookie), C.J. Williams (a two-way contract player), and Sam Dekker (who has been the backup power forward all season). On the bench, they’ll turn to Tyrone Wallace (a G-League player who was signed this morning), Sindarius Thornwell (a second-round rookie), and Wesley Johnson (a not-great basketball player).

The only reliable perimeter scorer that the Clippers have is Lou Williams, and because of that, he’ll draw a lot of attention from Andre Iguodala, and possibly a lot of double teams as well. The same goes for Blake Griffin in the post, where Draymond Green is a strong enough defender even when the help doesn’t come. Without reliable shooters in the supporting cast, look for extra attention to come to Blake early and often.