By Sam Kuperman
How the Clippers got Here: With former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers in L.A., the Clippers were very successful this season, finishing first in the Pacific Division with a 57-25 record. The Clippers were pretty consistent throughout the season, never going through a significant losing stretch.
While “Lob City” is officially out of commission, Chris Paul has led the charge for this squad while throwing plenty of lobs to Blake, Deandre, and co. in between. That being said, this team now has a defensive identity to go along with its ability to score with ease. L.A. averages 107.9 points per game, which is the top mark in the league.
How the Warriors got Here: While the Dubs finished the season with a solid 51-31 record; they had their fair share of struggles along the way. At times Golden State looked like a team that’s capable of competing with the top dogs in the league. Other times, however, it looked like a team that is barely worthy of a playoff spot.
While most teams around the association were aware that this young Warriors team could score in bunches, a newfound defensive efficiency was evident in the Bay Area this season. Golden State was one of only four teams in the West to allow less than 100 points per game, so that is certainly a major aspect of this team’s style of play. This helped them knock off some of the most talented teams in the Western Conference.
Clippers Player to Watch: We all know what the likes of CP3 and Blake Griffin are capable of doing on the basketball court. Even DeAndre Jordan has established himself as a premier defender and rebounder for this Los Angeles team. That being said, sixth man Jamal Crawford will need to step up in this series if the Clippers want a good chance of winning.
Crawford is a pure scorer off the bench, and that should come in handy against a Golden State teams that has so many weapons. While the Clippers are capable of defending, there will inevitably be games where Steph Curry will go off. That is where Crawford comes in.
Averaging 18.6 points per game, Crawford is a pure scorer. He can shoot the long ball, operate off the dribble, and has a mean crossover. While Paul and Griffin can both put up good scoring numbers, neither of them are as capable of scoring in bunches as Crawford is. That is why he is essential in what should be a very offensive oriented showdown.
Warriors Player to Watch: Andre Iguodala will need to step up for the Warriors in this series. He is the most versatile player for Golden State, and that will come in handy against the highest scoring team in the league. Iggy can lock down the perimeter with his athleticism and great defensive instincts. That will certainly come in handy in a series, which should predominantly feature offense, offense, and more offense.
Iguodala will also be an X-factor on the offensive end. He is a very good distributor from the wing and can also attack the hole when given the opportunity. At times Iguodala can have trouble finding his particular role in a game, and ends up watching the game more so than playing in it. If he can get involved early and often that will be huge for the Warriors.
Why Clippers Will Win: The Clips have a great advantage in this story. Besides having the best point guard in the league playing alongside one of the best power forwards in the league, Doc Rivers’ experience on the sidelines will be very beneficial.
Rivers has already left a big imprint on this team in getting Jordan to focus on becoming a defensive leader and helping Griffin improve his all around game, but the playoffs are the next step for this squad. The Warriors will not be an easy matchup, but there is certainly enough talent on this team to counteract the firepower that Golden State has.
Why Warriors Will Win: Golden State will get the win simply because it has such a high ceiling for what it is capable of. With Curry leading the way in the backcourt alongside the sweet shooting Klay Thompson, this is definitely a team that can go off in no time. When fans discuss the Warriors, they often forget to mention David Lee at power forward, as he is a major reason for this team’s success.
While Lee leaves a lot to be desired defensively, he crashes the boards extremely well and has a nice array of moves from about 18 feet and in. With him paired alongside the elite backcourt Golden State has, this team certainly has the capability to compete with the Clippers.