Last Updated: 2019-04-12
The Golden State Warriors are one of the biggest first-round favorites in recent memory. The Western Conference’s No. 1 seed has been the odds-on favorite to win its fourth title in five seasons all year long, and they are massive favorites against the No. 8 seed Los Angeles Clippers in this series. Golden State is a -10000 favorite to advance past the Clip Show, and the Warriors are even odds to sweep the series.
The Clippers were the last Western Conference team to beat the Warriors in the postseason. They knocked Golden State out in seven games in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, spelling the end of the Mark Jackson era. In the long term, that proved to be a great thing for the Warriors, as Steve Kerr has been one of the three best coaches in the league since taking over.
Regular Season Meetings
Golden State was able to beat the Clippers in three of their four regular season meetings, but the game the Clippers won ended up creating one of the stories of the season. Draymond Green and Kevin Durant blew up at one another on the court and in the locker room after the loss, and there still seems to be an underlying tension between the two.
Golden State Analysis
Honestly, the only way I can see Golden State losing this series is because of injury. The Warriors are more talented than the Clippers at every position on the floor, and they crushed the Clippers by 18 and 27 in their last two meetings.
Steph Curry is the most indispensable player on the roster, and he is having another insane season. Curry is averaging more than five threes a game, and he has sunk 43.7 percent of his treys on the year. There is always an injury risk because of his ankles, but that has been largely mitigated.
Klay Thompson has turned it around after a rough start to the season. Thompson was hitting less than 30 percent of his threes at one point, but he finished the year over the 40 percent mark.
In the frontcourt, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins are a devastating trio. Cousins has shown flashes of the player we saw in Sacramento before the injury, while Durant is still one of the five best players in the NBA. Green has tailed off and his shooting has not been good, but he is still a solid defender.
The Warriors finished the season with the best offensive rating in the league, and their ability to move the ball around has been big. They are the only team in the NBA with an assist ratio over 20, and their effective field goal percentage (56.5 percent) is by far the best in the league.
LA Clippers Analysis
This might have been Doc Rivers’ best coaching job yet. The Clippers looked like they might be giving up on the season after deciding to trade leading scorer Tobias Harris to Philadelphia in early February, but they were able to rally to finish with a winning record for the eighth straight season.
There isn’t a lot of talent on this team. The Clippers’ 1.1 net rating is the lowest of any playoff team in the Western Conference, and there isn’t a guy that you trust to get crunch time buckets on the roster.
Instead, the Clippers are a team filled with role players and guys that can do one or two things really well. Danilo Gallinari and Landry Shamet are the team’s top three point shooters, with Shamet hitting 45 percent of his threes and Gallinari sinking 43.3 percent of his triples.
Montrezl Harrell is the team’s best defender, and he has been a solid rim protector throughout the season, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a promising young player that can create, drive, and get to the rim. Lou Williams has shown no fear and isn’t afraid to take tough shots, and Ivan Zubac has given the Clippers a big man that can provide some scoring off the bench.
Bench play will be huge for the Clippers in this series. The Warriors’ bench has not been that good this season, and the Clip Show can tinker and find a winning combination with all of their spare parts. If they are going to pull off an upset, it will be in a game where the bench goes off and carries the day.
I think the Clippers will be able to steal a game in this series due to Doc Rivers finding some good combinations, but that will be it. Golden State is just too good at too many things, and I see them blowing out the Clippers in two or three games this series. I’ll take the Warriors in five.
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