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Clippers vs. Warriors Preview: A rivalry renewed?

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The Clippers face the red-hot Warriors on the second night of the back-to-back.

LA Clippers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Clippers lost a close one Tuesday, falling to the Spurs despite having two chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute. The game continued a trend of the Clippers being either up or down by 20 in every contest of the season so far, a surprisingly common occurrence throughout the league in 2020-21.

Game Information:

When: Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. PT

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California

How to watch/listen: ESPN, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570 Radio

Projected Starting Lineups:

Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Luke Kennard, Paul George, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, James Wiseman

Injuries:

Clippers: Marcus Morris, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard — QUESTIONABLE

Warriors: Klay Thompson, Alen Smailagic, Marquese Chriss — OUT

The Big Picture:

The Clippers, much like last season, have been quite intimidating when both of their superstars have been available. However, that hasn’t been the case for two games, both losses, and with the continued absence of Marcus Morris Sr., the team is discovering that its depth isn’t quite as proficient as it was a year ago. Beyond their eight-man rotation — which currently includes the flammable Reggie Jackson — the Clippers have to rely on minutes from Patrick Patterson, Terance Mann, and a host of rookies/sophomores who aren’t capable of playing high-level basketball at this moment.

Fortunately, that top tier has been so good (other than Luke Kennard, who’s still figuring his way out) that it has mitigated the roster concerns at the end of the bench. However, it’s unclear if the Clippers will have their full complement of players available against the Warriors. Morris’ status has been a mystery since the start of the preseason, Leonard hasn’t played a back-to-back in a Clipper uniform, and the team certainly doesn’t want to rush George back from an ankle injury that caused him to miss Tuesday’s game. The most likely outcome is the Clippers will have one of their two stars ready to go against Golden State. The problem? The Warriors have two.

The Antagonist:

After a hellacious start to the season that featured blowouts against two Eastern Conference powerhouses, Golden State is starting to round into form. The key to that renaissance has been Draymond Green, whose ability to run the offense allows Stephen Curry to once again be the most devastating off-ball threat in the league, in addition to all the havoc he can wreak with the ball in his hands.

Since Green returned to the lineup, the Warriors have gone 2-1 against the West, highlighted by Curry’s 62-point masterpiece against the Trail Blazers. Curry is shooting 56.1 percent from the field and 47.8 percent on 3-pointers with Green on the floor, compared to 42.6 and 32.8 percent, respectively, without his All-Star partner. Not only does Green give Golden State some needed defensive integrity, he elevates everyone on the offensive end, making the Warriors a team that once again needs to be reckoned with.

Notes:

  • Clippers/Warriors used to be a fun rivalry, dating back to the team’s playoff series in 2014. The Clippers don’t have anyone left from those teams, but Green has a long memory.
  • Lou Williams has been particularly good against the Warriors during his Clippers tenure, averaging over 24 points in this matchup over the last three seasons, including a 50-piece on national TV against the Kevin Durant iteration. The Warriors are weaker defensively on the perimeter than they have been in years, so maybe Williams can get loose.
  • Patrick Beverley would never admit it, but he definitely gets hyped against the biggest stars in the league, and Curry certainly qualifies. Here’s hoping for some banter between Beverley and Curry and/or Green.
  • Ivica Zubac was unable to stay on the floor against the Warriors back in their heyday, but can he hang in the second unit? Matching his minutes with Kevon Looney could be a good way of optimizing Zubac’s utility.

What else are you looking forward to in this matchup?