Cleat Geeks

5 Keys For The Clippers (4-1) To Beat The Warriors (4-3)

A thrilling Pacific Divisional showdown will take place tonight at the Staples Center between the Los Angeles Clippers (4-1) hosting the reigning NBA champions in the Golden State Warriors (4-3). This will be one of the best matchups of the week as the Clippers are looking to continue to shed the doubt of their legitimate case for appearing in the Western Conference Finals. While the Warriors, who despite having a full roster of all-stars, have 3 losses in 7 games. The Los Angeles Clippers can look to become a top leading team in the Western Conference by beating the Golden State Warriors. It will not be easy for the LA Clippers as they have lost 10 straight matchups to the Golden State Warriors. The last time the Warriors lost to the Clippers was on Christmas of 2014 in Los Angeles.

  1. The New Leadership of PF Blake Griffin Will Be A Big Factor for L.A.

One of the biggest goals for the Clippers team, outside of getting to the Western Conference Finals, is to play with the same intensity and efficiency without PG Chris Paul, now with the Houston Rockets. Los Angeles is adapting to Paul’s absence by enacting a new leadership role and relying on the playmaking ability of PF Blake Griffin. Head Coach Doc Rivers challenged the 5-time NBA All-Star Power Forward to not only take control of his team but also to be the all-around playmaker he has always been. Griffin has already become an MVP candidate 5 games into the season by accounting for 24.8 points per game, 9.6 rebounds per game and 4.4 assists per game.

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Griffin has also been given more freedom with the ball by passing more efficiently, driving more to the basket, creating his own shots and even elevating his 3-point shooting game. Griffin sank a game-winning 3-point buzzer beater against the Portland Trailer Blazers last Thursday night. The Golden State Warriors may be tied for 26th (out of 30 teams) in the league in points allowed per game (114.2) but they are 1st in blocked shots per game (8.7). Most of the blocks come from Warriors SF Kevin Durant near the paint. This is something that Griffin will need to be cautious of when facing this Warriors defense.

 

  1. Clippers will Need to Match the Warriors in Their own Fast Pace Offense

For the past ten matchups, the Warriors have won by utilizing their typical fast pace offense caused their efficient 3-point shooting. This season, with Chris Paul gone, there is reason to believe that Warriors will easily win this category. New Clippers PG Patrick Beverley has done a very good job so far this season by generating a fast-tempo to the Clippers squad. SF Danilo Gallinari has also done well in creating a more fast pace offense than last year with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (also now with the Houston Rockets), who was an absolute nuisance on the offensive side of the ball.

The Warriors rank 1st in the league in points per game (120), 1st in assists per game (30.2), 1st in field goal percentage (.506%), and 3rd in 3-point percentage per game (.392%). The Clippers will need to match the offense production of the Warriors as much as they can. Los Angeles ranks 11th in the league in points per game (106.2) and 6th in 3-point percentage per game (.377%). L.A. has more reliable scorers than in the past with Beverley, Gallinari, and former Rockets SG Lou Williams also becoming a key scorer as the main bench scorer.

 

  1. While the Offense Tries to Keep Pace, the Defense Must Remain Tenacious

The Clippers defense is currently the best scoring defense in the league by allowing an average of 92.4 points per game. Chris Paul was one of the five players on the 1st defensive team last season but the other Guard was Rockets PG Patrick Beverley. What Beverley brings to Los Angeles now is an aggressive man-to-man coverage that makes it harder to drive to the basket or even pass the ball. Beverley ranks 4th overall in the league in steals per game with 4. C DeAndre Jordan ranks 2nd in the league overall in total rebounds (17.4) behind Charlotte’s Dwight Howard (17.6).

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Throughout the whole court, the Clippers put on an aggressive man-to-man coverage while quickly swarming around the ball carrier to create a double team. When facing a talented offensive team like the Warriors, they cannot afford to leave a man open especially a team whose offensive philosophy is to drain 3-point shots. Warriors SG Klay Thompson could have himself a big game when going one-on-one in the wing against the Clippers weakest starting defender in SG Austin Rivers.

A long battle could enfold between Warriors PG Steph Curry and Patrick Beverley from start to finish. Curry is one of the best 3-point scorers in the NBA for the past 4 seasons. Curry averages 27.7 points per game and 6 assists per game and is the 3rd leading scorer in the NBA. While Curry is a dangerous offensive player, Curry does have a tendency to turn the ball over too much. In 6 games of the season for the Warriors, Curry averaged 2.5 turnovers per game but last night against the Detroit Pistons, he turned the ball over 5 times. Beverley can have a big night for L.A. with aggressive man-to-man and account for a high number of steals.

 

  1. SF Danilo Gallinari Must Find his Stride in this Game

Despite being the 2nd highest scorer on the team (along with Beverley) with an average of 13.2 points per game, SF Danilo Gallinari has yet to be the efficient scorer he has brought to L.A. to be. Gallinari currently has the worst field goal percentage of the team with .299% and also has a .258% from the 3-point line. While Beverley and SG Lou Williams each have found their shooting momentum for the Clippers, it is harder for Gallinari because he is an important part of their offense. Danilo was brought on to be the big-time clutch shooter, especially from the 3-point arc. Gallinari averaged 18.9 points per game the past two seasons with the Denver Nuggets.

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Now that he is with the Clippers, Gallinari has been giving a little bit more time to develop his shooting progression so he can be the consistent scorer he has been Denver the past couple of seasons. Through the first 5 games of the season, it seems like Danilo’s shots have seemed either rushed or slowed down. Through more experience with L.A., Gallinari will eventually find his stride but fans and coaches will need to him be a big-time contributor in a very likely high-scoring game against the Warriors.

 

  1. The Turnover Rate can be the Decider for the Clippers

Though the Golden State Warriors are one of the best offenses in the league, they are notorious this season turning the ball over. Golden State ranks 27th in the league in the least amount of turnover per game (17). This means that Golden State accounts for the 4th highest amount of turnovers per game this season. This is not counting the 25 total turnovers they encountered in last night’s loss at home to the Detroit Pistons. In that game against Detroit, PF Draymond Green turned the ball over 6 times, PG Steph Curry turned the ball over 5 times, and C Zaza Pachulia & SG Klay Thompson each turned the ball over 4 times. Golden State also ranks 21st in the league in steals accounted for per game (7.3).

The turnover battle can be huge for the Los Angeles Clippers as not only do they rank tied for 6th in the least amount of turnovers per game (13.6) but they also rank 6th in steals accounted for per game (9.2). In the Warriors’ 3 losses, they have lost the turnover battle. If this matchup becomes a tight and close game for both teams, turnovers, and mistakes could become a very big difference. If the Clippers want to have any chance to win a heavy offensive battle then they have to force turnovers.

 

Final keys and Analysis

With a tough rivalry game, tensions will be high for two teams that rally on emotion and the flow of the game. In 6 games of the season, the Warriors are tied for 2nd in most technical fouls (8) along with the Dallas Mavericks. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green have already been ejected from a game this season. Surprisingly, the Clippers have accounted for no technical fouls. This may change in this tense rivalry game but L.A. must make sure there are no ejections that will hurt themselves.

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Warriors PF David West and SG Nick Young have been big contributors to the Warriors on offense while SF Andre Iguodala continues to the most consistent defender on the team. The Clippers not only have a much younger bench this season but they are just as talented. SG Lou Williams is 4th on the team in points per game (12.4) while C Willie Reed is becoming a very consistent scorer in the paint in relief to starting Center DeAndre Jordan. The bench for the Clippers will need to be another big factor to beat the struggling Golden State Warriors as they will need either SF Wesley Johnson or rookie Sindarius Thornwell to score a high amount of points.

While the Warriors are still making strong strides of a championship run with their offense, they are showing through these 7 games that they just as beatable as anyone else. Los Angeles has gone from potential playoff team to likely top contender in the Western Conference in just 6 games of the 2017-2018 NBA season. A win over the struggling Warriors won’t put them higher than Golden State in the power rankings but it’s a start to show how relevant the Clippers can be this season.

 

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