The Los Angeles Clippers have lost only nine times this season, tied for fewest in the NBA, and only four of them coming at home. Two of those losses, including one at home, came at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.
The Pacific division has a different look to it this year: The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling to get close to .500, looking from below. The Phoenix Suns are out of the playoffs, already firing Alvin Gentry after a 13-28 start. The Los Angeles Clippers aren’t just dominating the division, but they’re tied for the best record in the NBA.
Chris Paul is the star of this team, averaging 17 points, 9.7 assists and 2.6 steals per game, but it’s the depth of the Clippers that has proven to be the key to their success. They’re averaging an 8.9+ scoring differential, second best in the NBA, while keeping teams at only 42.8% from the field (second best in the NBA) and forcing a league high 17 turnovers per game. Yes, defense has been the key to the Clippers’ success this season, currently on a four game winning streak.
The Warriors destroyed the weary Clippers the last time the two teams played inside the ORACLE arena, back January 2. They won 115-94, enjoying a wild shooting night from Stephen Curry, scoring 31 points (6-8 from beyond the arc) and Klay Thompson, scoring 19 points, hitting 5-9 from beyond the arc. The Warriors finished with 52.2% from three point range, something that was turned upside down on its head in the next visit to Los Angeles.
The Clippers won by 26 points, keeping the Warriors at 25% from three, forcing 16 turnovers and scoring 52 points in the paint. Curry and Thompson combined for only 24 points on that night.
Prediction – The Clippers have a problem when they arrive at Oakland, losing 12 of their last 14 visits, giving up an average of 109.4 points per game. The key to this one will dominating in the paint, meaning Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan don’t have to score a lot, but they have to do a great job when it comes to protecting the glass. Two bench players giving their usual, Harrison Barnes and Jamal Crawford, should be enough.