The LA Clippers will become the 30th NBA team to open their season tonight when they face the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.
For much of the past decade, Clippers-Warriors has been appointment viewing even for the casual NBA fan. The tension on the court is palpable even in regular season games — remember when Lou Williams dropped 50 against a Kevin Durant-led team on the road, or when Durant and Draymond Green got into it while the Clippers stole an OT win at home.
The energy in this matchup persists even though the two teams haven’t exactly occupied similar rungs on the league’s hierarchy in recent years. That trend continues. A year after the Clippers made their deepest postseason run in franchise history, they’re waiting for the return of Kawhi Leonard while Golden State is once again staking its case for Western Conference supremacy.
When: Thursday, October 21 at 7 p.m.
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
How to watch/listen: TNT, AM 570 Radio
Opposing perspective: Golden State of Mind
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Clippers: Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka, Keon Johnson, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston — OUT
Warriors: Jonathan Kuminga, Klay Thompson, James Wiseman — OUT
The 2021-22 season is only one game old, but the Warriors look to be playing just as they did in 2015 with a healthy Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, and the return of Andre Iguodala. The Clippers certainly took note.
“It’s scary, Steph didn’t shoot it well, and they still win,” Paul George said Wednesday. “We just have to, you know, be ready for, I think their ball movement. I thought the Lakers played them well. Put bodies on them. Forced them to make plays at the rim. And that’s how we’re going to have to try to approach it.”
“Just their pace, their constant movement and the way they share the basketball,” Ty Lue added when asked what stood out from Golden State’s debut. “If you’re open, you’re going to get the ball. The way they play, the ball is hopping. It’s infectious to move the basketball. It’s infectious to make the right play and the right pass. And Steve Kerr, along with Draymond and Steph, they really have the team playing that way all the time. They play fun basketball. It’s fun to play that way and they have the personnel to do it.”
The Clippers want to be a ball movement team like the Warriors, but they’re still transitioning their identity after allowing Leonard and George to do so much of the operating on offense last season. The goal is to achieve that pace, both in the half court and transition.
For now, the Clippers are playing catch up with the Warriors, a team that has more experience in its identity and is closer to full strength. Then again, it’s too early in the season to assign those narratives to any team. All that matters is that the Clippers are ready to go when the ball tips, which finally happens tonight.