Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors
7:30 p.m. PST
January 30, 2014
1. True or False: The Warriors will finish deeper in the playoffs than the Clippers this season.
Jacob Frankel, (@jacob_frankel): False. The bench woes that can plague the Clippers are nothing compared to what happens in the Bay. Mark Jackson insists on hockey-style substitutions, playing all of his bench together at once, and it is dreadful. The Warriors are only slightly better than the Clippers defensively and the Clippers are much better on the offensive end.
Jacob Greenberg, TheDissNBA (@jacobjgb): If the playoffs were starting today? False. The Clippers would have a much better chance as the fourth seed against the Rockets than the Warriors would have as the seventh seed against the Spurs. That said, there’s still a lot of season left, and the Warriors only landed in the seventh spot last night after a head-scratching loss to the Wizards. Hopefully, the Warriors can climb to a more favorable seeding (sixth or fifth) so they can avoid playing the Spurs or Thunder, and instead get the Blazers or the, well, Clippers. I feel their chances are much better against either of those teams.
Jack Winter, Hardwood Paroxysm (@ArmstrongWinter): False. The Western Conference bracket will be all about matchups this postseason, so definitively believing that one team – well, other than Oklahoma City – will advance farther than any other is a recipe for disappointment. The Clippers seem a safer bet than most, though, especially considering this ongoing 11-3 stretch they’ve played without Chris Paul. The schedule has hardly been difficult this month, but that L.A. could enjoy such success with Paul sidelined regardless speaks to this team’s rare depth and overall talent level. Golden State’s roster is better than ever, meanwhile, but still lacks the combination of high-end star power and quality ancillary pieces the Clippers’s does.
More high-end star power, a better supporting cast, and greater evidence of an ability to withstand injuries? In a vacuum, Los Angeles’s best team stands a greater chance of playing deep into spring than the Warriors. Definitely.
Related: when do we start making the case for Blake Griffin as Clippers MVP? 26/8/5 per 36 minutes on 55 percent shooting and 74 percent from the line since Paul’s injury is pretty, pretty good.
2. Solve this analogy – Chris Paul:John Stockton::Stephen Curry:_________
Frankel: I’ll go with Tiny Archibald, for one reason: Archibald is the only player to ever lead the league in both points and assists. Outside of LeBron, Curry seems like the only player with a shot of doing that in the modern era.
Greenberg: Man oh man, the multiple meanings of John Stockton. Does CP3 equal Stockton because he’s a “pure point guard” (whatever that means)? Or, because he’s “pass first” (whatever that means as well)? Or, because he’ll likely never win a championship (yep, I went there)? John Stockton was a lot of things all at once, so it’s hard for me to answer this cleanly. But anyways, as a cop out, Steph’s sort of analogous to the 1999-2000 Indiana Pacers backcourt. I honestly cannot remember a player that Steph really resembles; he’s a crazy combination of his dad Dell Curry, Reggie Miller and ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich. You can also see a bit of Mark Jackson in Steph these days, which is unsurprising given that Jax is his coach and mentor. So given his ability to facilitate, score and lead, I’m going to give Steph the qualities of one of the better backcourts in recent memory.
Winter: In-prime Steve Nash. Just because it’s the easy answer doesn’t mean it’s not the right one. Can you think of an All-Star point guard in the modern era that’s relied on supreme skill and guile more than Curry or Nash?
While the latter was mostly famous for his uncanny court sense and ballhandling wizardry, Nash of the mid-late 2000s might have been basketball’s best shooter. And though the growing admiration of Curry is owed mainly to his prolific deep-shooting prowess, he might be the game’s most creative passer, too. Plus, both players are obvious minuses on defense and have a high, necessary propensity for turnovers.
3. Confirm or Deny: The Warriors and Clippers are rivals in your eyes.
Frankel: Confirm. It’s pretty clear they don’t like each other, and that plus the fact that they play each other four times a year makes them rivals. Whether it’s Andrew Bogut’s sneaky elbows, Kent Bazemore’s celebrations, or the attitude of Draymond Green, it seems the Clippers just get up a bit more for this game.
Greenberg: Confirmed. These teams are rivals, or as close to rivals as can be in the modern NBA, where players share agents, endorsement deals and offseason plans. There seems to be a genuine dislike between these teams. I attribute it to their eerily (and disappointingly) similar trajectories over the last twenty years or so. After suffering through the latter part of the 1990s, both teams had a brief moment of respectability in the mid 2000s (Clips in 2006, Warriors in 2007) before falling on hard times again. Both teams found their salvations in the 2009 draft — Clips got Blake, Dubs got Steph — and have now rounded into what appear to be sustainably competitive outfits. So it makes sense that these two teams would hate each other; they are, in strange ways, mirror images of one another. I’m hoping both teams can hold on to this rivalry for years to come. It’s nice to have something that the Lakers can’t participate in. Right?
Winter: Confirm. Separate chapel services, opposing coach-player tension, near melees post-game, and proud, outright contention through the media. Clippers-Warriors isn’t just a rivalry, but the NBA’s best.