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NBA Playoffs 2019: Warriors vs. Clippers Game 4 Preview

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After getting blown out in Game 3, can the Clippers rally to tie the series at Staples?

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information:

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

When: 12:30 PM PT

How to watch: ABC

Blog partner: Golden State of Mind

Projected Starting Lineups:

Warriors: Steph Curry – Klay ThompsonKevin DurantDraymond GreenAndrew Bogut

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

Injuries:

Warriors: Damian Jones Out (Pectoral), DeMarcus Cousins Out (Quad)

Clippers: None

Notes:

Changes to the starting lineup: While the projected starting lineup is the one that the Clippers have used since the trade deadline, it would not be shocking if Doc switched things up a little in Game 4. The starting lineup has struggled immensely (more offensively than defensively), and nothing really indicates that they’ll do any better in the remainder of the series. Sure, Shai, Beverley, and Gallo have all missed open shots, but the overall offense with the starters has just never seemed particularly threatening, or strung together more than a couple scores in a row. There are all sorts of options Doc could take to juice the offense, with the only two locks to remain in the unit being Beverley and Gallo. He could move Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and JaMychal Green into the starting lineup, as they’ve been the Clippers’ best players so far this season. Or he could swap out Lou for Shai alone, or Green/Trez for Zubac alone. No matter what, it seems that a shakeup is needed. Even if Doc rolls out the same group for Game 4, expect them to have a very short leash.

Making shots: At bottom, basketball is a simple game. You need to make shots to win (as well as stop the other team, but if you don’t make any at all, stops aren’t that helpful). For much of the series, the Clippers just haven’t hit open looks. I wrote yesterday about Danilo Gallinari’s struggles so far, but every Clippers’ rotation players besides Lou, Trez, and Green has struggled mightily with hitting shots. The Warriors have mostly played good defense, but plenty of open looks have been missed as well, with Shamet, Gallo, and Bev (from three) and Shai (midrange) being the guys who need to step up the most. Against the Warriors, scoring is even more important, because it prevents them from getting into their transition offense, which is the deadliest in the entire NBA. When they take the ball out of their own basket, they’re still a good offensive team, even a very good one, but not nearly as impossible to stop as they are in the fastbreak.

Home crowd factor: Clippers fans showed up loud and ready for Game 3… only to be let down by a blowout where the Warriors had a double-digit lead in the first quarter and never looked back. If the Clippers are to have a chance in Game 4, they will need a similar crowd to turn up, and then actually provide some moments to get Staples behind them. Tomorrow is Easter as well as Passover, so there might not be quite as many people there or watching as normal, but hopefully the crowd is mostly Clippers’-oriented, and that they’re ready to go.

Slowing KD: After doing an impressive job on Kevin Durant in the first two games, he exploded for 38 points in Game 3, and looked nigh unstoppable most of the contest. Pat Beverley will probably get some time on him, but last game it looked like they really figured out the coverages with a smaller defender on KD, and it seems like it might be time to throw a larger player at him. Shai is too slender/weak right now, Trez is too slow, and Chandler shouldn’t be on the court that much, so it really comes down to Gallo or Green. Neither guy is a match for KD in terms of quickness, but Green probably has a bit of a step on Gallo, and is also more expendable in terms of fouls, so it would be interesting to have him on KD. Again, it makes a lot of sense for him to start, with Gallo effectively playing center and defending Andrew Bogut.

Check back in for the game thread tomorrow morning, and head over to Golden State of Mind for the Warriors’ perspective!