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NBA Playoffs 2019: Clippers vs. Warriors Game 3 Preview LA needs to keep momentum after historic comeback

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The Clippers need to keep momentum after a historic comeback.

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

Game Information:

Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

When: 7:30 p.m.

How to watch: TNT, Fox Sports Prime Ticket

Blog partner: Golden State of Mind

Projected Starting lineups:

LA Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet, Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari, Ivica Zubac

Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut

Injuries:

Clippers: None

Warriors: DeMarcus Cousins (torn left quad) — OUT, Damian Jones (pectoral) — OUT

Series Summary:

The Golden State Warriors entered this series as the biggest favorites in a postseason matchup over the last 30 years, and they demonstrated their dominance in a resounding Game 1 victory, when the Warriors defense started to reach its peak. Game 2 appeared to be following a similar tenor, despite DeMarcus Cousins getting injured early into the first quarter, as Golden State built a 31-point lead on the backs of Steph Curry’s electric brilliance and more stifling defense.

And then, oh how the tables turned. Lou Williams put together the highest-scoring quarter in franchise history with 17 points in the third, and alongside Montrezl Harrell and JaMychal Green, LA pick-and-rolled the Warriors to death. Patrick Beverley set up real estate in Kevin Durant’s head while Danilo Gallinari cashed in the quietest 24 points you’ll ever see. The Clippers, forever the living embodiment of grit and determination, never stopped fighting and scored 85 points in the second half for a historic comeback, capped by a moment that will hopefully reverberate in franchise lore for years to come, as rookies Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet connected for the game-winning three.

It’s going to be hard for LA to move past one of the greatest wins in team history, if not NBA postseason history, but the series is only tied 1-1. All the good work the Clippers did to earn homecourt advantage could be erased in one fell swoop, and the players know that if the Warriors weren’t ready to play before, they certainly will be now.

What to watch for:

  • Landry Shamet’s defense: As expected, the Clippers made a defensive adjustment between the first two games with the goal of slowing down Curry. However, instead of moving Beverley from Durant (and thank goodness Doc Rivers didn’t, because the entertainment value alone is tremendous), Shamet switched over from Klay Thompson to Curry. One of Shamet’s best skills as a defender in Los Angeles was fighting through screens, and that is of utmost importance against the two-time MVP.
  • Steph Curry’s foul trouble: Part of the key to containing Curry was forcing him to pick up fouls on defense. Due to the cross-matching between both teams, Curry found himself switched onto Gallinari on more than one occasion, and that requires substantial physical effort. LA’s best hope of keeping Curry below his MVP-standard is by making him play defense and hopefully keeping him off the court due to foul trouble.
  • Lou/Trez pick-and-roll: Montrezl Harrell has scored 1.92 points per possession as the roll man over the past two games. That’s insane. He is literally unstoppable when he sets a pick and rolls to the basket, and it stands to reason that the Warriors will make an adjustment to try to contain the Clippers’ bread and butter offensive set. Thus far, Golden State has been loath to bring extra help to contain Williams and Harrell because of the spacing around the duo. But so long as this pick-and-roll is creating almost a certain basket at the hoop, the Warriors will probably try to switch up their coverages and force Garrett Temple, Wilson Chandler, or JaMychal Green to make them pay.
  • The big man matchup: Cousins wasn’t exactly dominating the Clippers, but Bogut is even more offensively limited than a toned-down Cousins. That means that LA can continue its defensive strategy of honing in on the three superstars and leaving Bogut and Draymond Green alone on the perimeter. As a result, Zubac may still be playable for stretches against Bogut, but he’ll have to tighten up his defense to avoid losing his minutes to JaMychal Green.
  • The overall energy: This is fairly vague, but the Clippers have brought the fight to the Warriors in each of the two games, save for a stretch at the end of the first half of game 1, when the LA players succumbed to complaining after a few calls went against them. The Clippers have essentially played as well as they can, but the same cannot be said for Golden State. The Warriors have coasted through much of the series so far, and it has cost them. You can be sure that LA will be ready to go for Game 3, but if Golden State matches that energy, it will be a tough fight. Fortunately, that’s what the Clippers are built for.