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NBA Playoffs 2019: Clippers vs Warriors Game 2 Preview

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The Clippers look to bounce back after a chippy loss to the Warriors in Game 1.

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

Game Information:

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California

When: 7:30 PM PT

How to watch: TNT, Fox Sports Prime Ticket

Blog partner: Golden State of Mind

Projected Starting Lineups:

Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Pat Beverley – Landry ShametDanilo GallinariIvica Zubac

Warriors: Steph Curry – Klay ThompsonKevin DurantDraymond GreenDeMarcus Cousins

Injuries:

Clippers: None

Warriors: Damian Jones Out (pectoral)

Series Summary:

The Warriors took Game 1 121-104, in a game that was in their control mostly from start to finish. The Clippers made them work, to be sure - Dramond Green and Andre Iguodala were giving 100% on defense, and Steve Kerr left some of his starters in until 1:41 left in the game – but the Warriors were comfortable nearly the entire game. The only stretch where the Clippers seemed in control was at the start of the 2nd quarter, when Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell dissected the Warriors’ bench. If the Clippers are going to win a game, they will need more stretches like that, and need them from other groups besides their bench duo.

Notes:

  • Getting Shamet going: Danilo Gallinari is the best player in the Clippers’ starting lineup, and on the entire roster. It’s just a given that they will need more than 15 points from him to truly be competitive in any of the games in this series, much less win. However, the key to the Clippers’ starting unit offensively is Landry Shamet. Much in the same way that JJ Redick was for Doc’s Lob City teams, Shamet is the fulcrum around which the offense runs. When he’s able to spring free for open shots, it not only generates lots of points for himself, but it opens things up for the rest of the team. When he was taken out of Game 1 by the excellent scheme and execution of the Warriors’ defense, it shut down a lot of the Clippers’ offense, particularly in their starting lineup. Both Draymond Green and Kevin Durant talked about how important Shamet was, so the attention on him is not going to go away. The Clippers simply have to devise new schemes to get him open, or use him as a decoy to get other guys looks. Whatever they do, Shamet has to get more than six shots up in Game 2.
  • Defensive adjustments: In some ways, the Clippers played really well defensively in Game 1. Their strategy of forcing DeMarcus Cousins and Green to shoot by doubling Durant in the post and swarming Klay and Steph off screens worked to some extent, in that Cousins looked awful and KD was mostly kept quiet. On the other hand, Steph ran wild, and the Warriors are at their absolute most dangerous when Steph is cooking. While I think in some ways the Clippers’ overall strategy will be the same, I wonder if Doc might not put Pat Beverley on Steph at some point, switching the larger Gallo onto KD, and having Shai or Shamet on Green. Shai makes the most sense as the “help defender” due to his long arms and plus instincts, but Shamet could work too if the Clippers don’t want him getting too tired chasing Klay around on defense. Beverley isn’t exactly a Steph-stopper, but he will probably navigate the maze of off-ball screens that the Warriors set better than Shai does, and his physicality could throw Steph off more than it might KD. It’s worth a shot, anyway.
  • Rotation adjustments: It could be because he played so badly due to Game 1 jitters, but Ivica Zubac only played 10 minutes in the first game of the series. His defense on Cousins was solid, and he pulled in a few rebounds, but everything else was mostly a disaster. In particular, he was a non-factor offensively, and the Warriors treated him like one, cramping things up for the rest of the team. He can (and will) certainly play better in the future, but his low minutes could be a portend of things to come. Montrezl Harrell will need a ton of minutes in this series due to his offense, and Doc will want to go small with JaMychal Green at points as well to space the floor. That doesn’t leave a whole lot for Zu, so hopefully he plays much better in his limited minutes in Game 2. If not, it’s possible we see him phased out of the rotation entirely, with Green probably starting in his stead to keep the Lou-Trez combo intact off the bench. This would make the Clippers’ even more undersized against the Warriors, but would add another player to throw on KD, and improve spacing significantly.
  • Keeping composure: While Pat Beverley and the Clippers did their best to irritate the Warriors in Game 1, it was the Clippers, not the Warriors, who lost their composure at the end of the 2nd quarter, surrendering a Warriors’ run which pushed them firmly out of the game. The Warriors are good enough as is without playing into their hands by focusing on the officiating and foul calls. The Clippers need to be aware that the Warriors, being the superstar-laden team that they are, will get calls anyway, and particularly at Oracle. There’s no use getting upset about it, especially in the second quarter. Hopefully the Clippers do a better job of keeping their heads in Game 2.

The Clippers fought hard in Game 1, but were ultimately outmatched. However, there were some promising signs, and the Clippers should feel good about their chances in Game 2. Check back in later today for the game thread, and head over to Golden State of Mind for the Warriors’ perspective!