Los Angeles Clippers (6-4) @ Golden State Warriors (12-0)
7:30 p.m. PST
November 19, 2015
Last time they met?
November 19, 2015 — Two weeks ago, these were the last two undefeated teams in the West — the Clippers almost pulled off a win in Oakland but fell 112-108.
What’s changed since then?
Well, the Warriors have kept their unbeaten streak alive and are within striking distance of the NBA record for the best start ever. As for the Clippers, well, they’ve stumbled since then dropping three of five — CP3 and J.J. Redick have been nursing injuries and Doc took a soul-searching trip into the mountains…
It’s been five days since the Clippers last took to the court, giving their injured back court a chance at recovery. Meanwhile, the Warriors have only played once since November 14 — a 115-110 win against the Toronto Raptors at home.
1. Besides Curry, what stands out for you in the Warriors fast start?
Ben Mesirow (@SemNeb): Honestly, it’s almost impossible to pay attention to anything other than Steph Curry’s incredible start. But when I’ve managed to tear my eyeballs away from the Human Torch, they just get caught on the fact that as a team the Warriors are shooting at a ridiculous 48/40/76 FG/3P/FT clip despite a (possibly injury-related) dip from Klay Thompson, and despite the fact that Steve Kerr hasn’t been around much. The defense still looks sharp, and with the emergence of Festus Ezeli they’re just as deep as ever. Scary stuff.
Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU): It has to be the continued improvement of PF Draymond Green, who has taken another step in his second season as a starter. Green’s 3-point shooting plummeted to 26.4 percent in the playoffs. That number is up to 40.4 percent on 19-of-47 shooting, a better percentage than All-Star SG Klay Thompson. Green is still giving you 8 rebounds and more than a steal and a block per game, but he’s also found the time to drop 6.9 assists per game too. That’s more assists per game than the MVP PG who shall not be named here.
Michael Shagrin (@mshaggy):The permanency of the program. Steve Kerr has yet to rejoin the team as head coach, thrusting the game management duties on Luke Walton for the first dozen games. And yet the Warriors haven’t missed a beat. If anything, they look more comfortable running their spacing schemes than they did last year. Kerr’s absence just seems immaterial.
2. True or False: The Clippers are the best challenger for the Warriors in the League.
Mesirow: On a night-to-night intensity-level basis? Probably true, just based on the undisguised animosity between the two teams and how much fun it is when they play. But if we’re talking about pure basketball competition, then it feels like San Antonio’s system is better able to puncture Golden State’s excellent D, and Cleveland’s major pieces look a little more problematic for the Warriors over the course of a hypothetical seven game series.
Murray: False. I realize that the Clippers are hanging their hats on the fact that they’re the last team to eliminate the Warriors in the postseason. But the teams are different now. Golden State has won 4 of the last 5 meetings. There’s only one team that beat the Warriors twice last season, and that team is the San Antonio Spurs. For what it’s worth, the Spurs knocked the Warriors out of the postseason 3 seasons ago.
Shagrin: False. It’s got to be the Cavs. A healthy, energized Lebron James single-handedly carried Cleveland to a 2-1 lead in the Finals last year, and that was without his two best supporting cast members. Golden State’s subsequent three wins had as much to do with Lebron’s body revolting against him as it did the majestic play of the Warriors.
3. Which trend is more likely to hold true: Stephenson playing less than 2 minutes per game or Jamal lighting it up?
Mesirow: I suspect that neither trend will last very long, but I have to think that it’s more likely that Jamal catches fire. Jamal is a streaky player to say the least, and hopefully his explosion last game means he’s finding his groove. It should also help his numbers (though probably not the team) if he gets to play more minutes with the starters in place of banged-up J.J. Redick or CP3. Running Horns with Blake and DeAndre is a great way for anyone to get hot. And unless the Clippers are prepared to give Wes Johnson big minutes, they need Lance to contribute something meaningful, so despite his struggles I doubt Lance will ride the pine for too long.
Murray: Stephenson went from starter to a near DNP-CD almost overnight. Meanwhile, Jamal Crawford had one of his top 5 games as a Clipper Saturday. Appreciate J-Crossover while you can. He’s 35, and not going to be averaging 30 points per game over the course of a week. Stephenson will get another chance to play, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Luc Mbah a Moute cuts into his playing time with Chris Paul and J.J. Redick making their way back from injury.
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