There’s this strange phenomenon in sport where a team in a bad way can completely outplay a team in a good way. They can turn up and just completely outhink and outfight the other team, as though the roles we’d seen going into the game were completely reversed for one night only. That’s what we saw when the Los Angeles Clippers took on the New York Knicks. It’s not up to Ty Lue and his squad to make sure it is just one off night.
In many ways Sunday night resembled games we saw earlier in the season, when the Clippers were having to deal with health and safety protocols and injuries on the fly. They didn’t shoot the ball well, they were outrebounded, and it felt like everything they tried didn’t come off – while the opposite was true for their opposition. The fact they never led at any point in the contest, and were down by 32 at their lowest point, tells you all you need to know.
Luckily for the Clippers, they have the chance to put it right against the team that started this recent winning run. OK, the following night they did lose to Phoenix, but that win against the Golden State Warriors was all but set to go down as the biggest of the Clippers’ season – that was until they beat their cross-arena rivals twice in the space of a week. The win was still huge though, and it also came at the start of a bad run for Steve Kerr’s squad.
When: Tuesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. PT
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
How to watch/listen: TNT, NBCSA / KGMZ-FMKLAC/KWKW-LAC (RADIO)
Opposing perspective: Golden State of Mind
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac
Warriors: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Jonathan Kuminga, Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney
Clippers: Robert Covington, Norman Powell, Jay Scrubb, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston — OUT
Warriors: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., James Wiseman - OUT
Since that defeat in Los Angeles, Golden State won just one in eight games, with the absence of Draymond Green exposing a multitude of sins. They’ve gone from being the second best defensive team across the league (currently 105.9 through all games), to the second worst team based on defensive rating through their last eight matchups at 118.0. That’s rough.
The Clippers, on the other hand, have continued to be one of the top defensive teams in the league through their recent run, while being able to rely upon their number of talented individuals to pull them through on any given night. Their opponents don’t have a ton of problems scoring the ball, but keeping it out of their own basket has been hard for them, which bodes well for the 213 on their travels to San Francisco.
The Warriors were short handed in last night’s loss to Denver, but they will be expecting a few of their stars to return, fresh for the challenge the Clippers will pose. They still won’t have Green though, and they’ll need to work out how to keep the ball out of their own basket without him if they’re going to take this one. For Coach Lue and company, they’ve got the blueprint of what it takes to beat this opponent, and they’ll remember what a win last time out did for their momentum ahead of what could be an exciting end to the regular season.