Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors
October 31, 2013
7:30 p.m. PST
About two minutes into Tuesday night’s the second half, the Clippers were leading the Lakers by eight and were sprinting away with an immediate 6-0 run to start the third quarter. It looked it was time for the Clippers to start pulling away. But then Mike D’Antoni made one of the better coaching moves of the day: he took a quick timeout, and the Lakers quickly turned around their fortunes. Tonight, if the Clippers get on that run against a Golden State team that can score in spurts better than any other squad in the league, they can’t let a timeout change that streak. Now, onto 3-on-3:
1. Should we be worried about the Clippers’ performance on opening night?
Jack Winter, WarriorsWorld.net, (@ArmstrongWinter): Yes and no. Every team and player in this league is talented enough to steal a win from a superior opponent under specific circumstances. Things have to break right for the underdog and wrong for the favorite, but sheer effort and will matter most in these instances; the Lakers, simply, had more of both than the Clippers. That’s especially concerning in a season opener, but only to a certain degree. Doc Rivers and Chris Paul won’t let that apathy linger long.
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): No. Let’s wait for a bigger sample size, as in more than a single game. In the meantime, we should balance our attention to the Clippers’ issues (rebounding, perimeter defense, fourth-quarter lethargy) with even-keeled patience while they learn the system. If the team is still struggling to rotate and close out on three-point shooters in February, then we can worry.
FredKatz, (@FredKatz): No. Let’s all stop freaking out about one game. If this were game 47, it would be a frustrating night that would end once our heads hit our respective pillows. Tuesday’s game though, because it was game one, has led to a two-day sobfest. Lob City is no more. Now, we live in Overreaction City.
2. How far can the Warriors go this year?
Winter: How far can they go? Golden State has the horses to win a championship this year. The Warriors offense is otherworldly explosive, and their underrated defense is anchored by two stalwarts – Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut – on both areas of the floor. They’re hardly the favorite in the conference let alone entire league, but a title is definitely within the realm of possibility. A first round exit is, too; that’s how good the West is this season.
James: How far can they go is a different question than how far will they go, and I’m relieved to be answering the former rather than the latter. The Dubs had a puncher’s chance of making the Conference Finals last year, and I think they’re a better team this year, especially their starters. Losing reserves Jack, Landry, and (for part of the year) Ezeli will hurt, but it should cost more regular season games than playoff games.
Katz: They’re the dark horses in the west, no doubt about it. Let’s say everything goes right. Let’s say Andre Iguodala has a Defensive Player of the Year-type season (not that much of a stretch), Steph Curry, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson improve (like most 25-and-under players do), Mark Jackson gets a little better as a coach, and Andrew Bogut stays healthy all season. This team has the pieces to win the West. It just needs a little more luck than your average contender.
3. What is the key matchup in this game?
Winter: Andrew Bogut versus DeAndre Jordan. Raw box score numbers don’t show it, but the former’s impact in his team’s opener was more positive than the latter’s. Bogut obviously can’t match Jordan’s supernatural athleticism, but he easily makes up for it with rare knack, knowledge and discipline. If Jordan Hill can abuse D.J. on the offensive glass, Bogut is set to do that and more. But Jordan’s physical gifts could win out, too. Will Bogut keep up with him in transition? We’ll see.
James: The Clippers’ perimeter defense vs. the Warriors’ perimeter shooting. Golden State will be looking to use their greatest asset (unconscious three-point bombing) against LA’s most glaring weakness. Actually, rebounding might be LA’s most glaring weakness, but the issues are related – giving up a three pointer off an offensive rebound is particularly deflating. So controlling the defensive glass could go a long way toward a victory Thursday night.
Katz: Andre Iguodala vs. Chris Paul. This isn’t a true one-on-one matchup. Paul clearly won’t be guarding Iguodala and Iggy likely won’t guard Paul for plenty of the game, but a ball-handling Paul gets frustrated when big, wing defenders man him, and those sorts of defenders clearly affect his productivity. If Iggy can check Paul and shut him down during important minutes, it’ll show exactly why the Warriors ponied up $48 million for him this offseason.