Note to Clippers: Don’t Call This A Rivalry

Warriors 124, Clippers 117

A 23 point lead that felt like a 9 point lead that became a 2 point lead that turned into the Clippers looking frozen, Blake Griffin turning into a ghost, Chris Paul exhausted, was less shocking than it was so very predictable. The Clippers can’t get out of their own way when it comes to the Warriors and this is clear regardless of the Clippers post game self-reflections. They can’t beat Golden State.

Forget that they have a history of over-confidence, arrogance, running and dunking which has amounted to nothing in the Chris Paul era. Forget that they didn’t even play Lance Stephenson in this game and that their small forward combo of Wesley Johnson and Paul Pierce gave them 13 points on 5-13 shooting while the Warriors small forward tandem of Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala had 29 points and huge three point buckets in the comeback fourth.

All we need to do with the Clippers is cue the part of the brain where memory is stored and drag up another 4th quarter debacle. In last year’s playoffs, they choked away a huge fourth quater double digit lead, that time it was to the Rockets. That’s not enough data? Cue in the last time they played the Warriors (Nov. 4th) and had a nine point lead in the fourth quarter in Oakland and lost.

Local sports media likes to play up these Clippers-Warriors games as a rivalry. It is not. It is not a rivalry. It is not a rivalry. The Clippers have no answer for Steph Curry in the 4th quarter. The can’t handle the Warriors small ball and Draymond Green guarding Chris Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan. They don’t defend inbound passes. They don’t rebound. One defensive rebound in the 4th quarter will make every coach from youth league on up cringe. The Clippers don’t close teams out. They can’t. They can’t because their best player is unable to assert his will. Unable or unwilling. Time and again, Blake Griffin either takes a shot that is ridiculous or he defers to Chris Paul. Chris Paul got them the lead. It is Blake who has to finish.

The Warriors don’t panic and why would they? They don’t have to depend on Curry until they have to depend on Curry. In one possession with the Warriors in striking distance, Curry didn’t even touch the ball. Green facilitated from the mid-post, swung it around until Klay Thompson got an uncontested shot.

As glamorous as Curry’s 40 points look in the box score, Andre Iguodala gave the Warriors two threes in the fourth quarter. Draymond Green gave them a huge defensive effort on Paul and Griffin, and two big buckets. Harrison Barnes dropped 8 points. Klay Thompson’s lone three gave the Warriors a one point lead they never relinquished.

The Warriors are a special team. Special teams don’t have rivals. Special teams are undefeated.

photo via llananba