If the Golden State Warriors didn’t lose this one to the Los Angeles Clippers, is it safe to assume they’re going to be undefeated at the end of this season?
We’re jumping to conclusions here, but at 13-0, overcoming yet another bad start and tight finish, one has to wonder what does a team have to do to beat the Warriors? The Clippers had a 23-point lead, and Chris Paul came out firing in the first quarter with 7-of-7 from the field, finishing with 35 points. With 5:05 left in the game, the Clippers managed to slow down the surging Warriors and opened up a 10-point lead. There was no way they were letting go of this one.
But the Clippers might be the most talented team in the league but also the one that can’t finish games “better” than anyone. Paul Pierce, with his NBA championship and experience, couldn’t fix that issue, not at this point. The Warriors raised their level of defense while exposing every possible weakness in the Clippers’ (mainly Jamal Crawford), scoring 11 consecutive points to take the lead for the first time since the very first minutes of the game.
The Clippers managed to regain the lead just one more time on a Jamal Crawford three pointer before the Warriors ran away with this one for good, finishing it on a 22-5 run and a 124-117 win, led by Stephen Curry with 40 points, including the three pointer that put them in the lead for good. Bad night on defense for almost an entire game? Almost nothing from their bench except for Andre Iguodala? Doesn’t matter. It seems that there’s this confidence and certainty that it will all come together in the right way when the game is on the line.
Right now, it’s hard not to be concerned if you’re the Clippers. They’re trying to get to where the Warriors are at, but even 43 minutes of the right kind of defense and offense weren’t enough. It takes 48 minutes of being great on both ends of the floor to beat them, and it seems the Clippers, and maybe no one else in the league right now, has what it takes to follow through on the right gameplan against a team that seems flawless right now, even if they’re finding it more and more difficult to stay that way.
For a team like the Clippers, it means being in transition as much as possible. Once the Warriors started making shots and Paul had to navigate against this defense through the half court offense, the Clippers fell apart, their advantages disappearing. Not having an isolation player who can force the Warriors into some problematic matchups hurt, and it’ll probably mean being even better on defense if they’re to beat the Warriors at some point, especially in the playoffs, this season.