The last time Clippers-Warriors was interesting was when they were in the playoffs in 2014, in the first round. In the middle of that series then owner Donald Sterling was outed as a racist and the Clippers players, acting surprised and then solemn, turned their warmups inside out to cover up the name Clippers as absolution. The Clippers eventually won that series in seven games and that was the last time the Clippers had any chance against Steph Curry and company. The Warriors move the ball too well and too crisply. They have better shooters. They play at an energetic pace and beat the Clippers in the intangibles, like running in transition, boxing out and overall synergy. Furthermore, to put it bluntly, when the Clippers play with zero fire in the belly and like cement is tied around their ankles and when Blake Griffin is taking threes and they don’t play hard and they look bored, then they have no shot. On Wednesday, they had no shot.
It is romantic to say this is the Clippers year. They have the town if they wanted the town. Kobe is gone and the best thing the Lakers can offer is Nick Young and Lou Williams. So the city could be theirs if only they could beat the team they just cannot beat.
Let’s put it another way. The last two seasons the Lakers have beaten the Warriors at Staples. The last two seasons the Clippers have been demoralized at Staples by Golden State. And that’s with emotion on their side. And that’s with hating the Warriors. And that’s with a core group who have been together for five years and have accomplished absolutely nothing. When they play the Warriors, the Clippers look like they need a heart transplant. Or they just need to wake up.
The Warriors are everything we knew the Warriors could be. They are the best offensive team of the past thirty years and maybe forever. They are the best assist team. They are the best passing the ball in the post team. They are the best cutting team. They are the best moving without the ball team. They are the best at unselfishness. No other team has three players that can’t score 40 on any given night. This is one of the all time special teams but because there is Warrior fatigue it’s hard to really get excited about whatever they do to the Clippers in December.
NBA history has proven this happens with great teams when the little engine that could tries to beat them but fails. The Jazz couldn’t beat the Bulls. The Kings couldn’t beat the Lakers. The Clippers cannot beat the Warriors. It is seven straight losses and the wheel keeps turning. The Clippers will probably grab their traditional third seed and win a round or two in the playoffs and that will be that. They don’t have the personnel to take the mantle away from Golden State. They don’t have the toughness. They are not edgy enough. They can’t win.
It doesn’t mean the Warriors are a perfect team. They aren’t. They have an Achilles heel if they have to use their bench for a lot of minutes. They have no rim protectors against quick guards shoving the ball down the lane. But It won’t be exposed in the playoffs, unless they meet the Rockets. The Rockets have multiple shooters that can create chaos for the Warriors who are not a special defensive team. It is a series to wait for. Mike D’Antoni going up against his old boss, Steve Kerr.
But if the Warriors avoid the Rockets there is no other team out there to cause them problems that last past a game or two. The Spurs can get a couple of games off of them but chasing the Warriors all over the court and then having to score is exhausting. It won’t be until they match up with the Cavs in the Finals that it gets interesting. The Warriors have no answer for LeBron James or Kyrie Irving.
The Clippers have no answer for Steph and Klay.
Wake me up in June.
photo via llananba