Sorry, Clippers: Warriors Prove They're Still Unrivaled Out West

Thursday December 8th, 2016

For the umpteenth time in the last three regular seasons, the Warriors took our narratives, crumpled them up into a paper ball, and effortlessly swished them into a garbage can from 30 feet away. After a couple weeks of hype—maybe the Clippers are for real!—Golden State erased any doubt who the top dog is in the West, hammering Los Angeles 115 to 98 at Staples Center. 

The game felt practically over by the end of the first quarter. Aside from a brief second quarter stretch of competence—buoyed largely by Jamal Crawford heaves—the Clippers were thoroughly overmatched Wednesday night. Golden State did what it always does, turning defenses into a game of drunk Twister until someone comes loose for a wide-open shot.
 
If the Warriors running through the Western Conference seemed like a fait accompli entering the season, the Clippers did nothing to change your mind.
 
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Los Angeles greatly helped the Warriors offense by coughing up the ball over and over again. The Clippers had 14 turnovers, many of which were in the throw-the-ball-right-into-a-defender’s-arms variety. Curry finished with seven steals, and giving up easy points in transition to perhaps the greatest offensive team of all time is a recipe for disaster.

In the half-court, the Warriors always had a glaring mismatch to take advantage of. J.J. Redick struggled against Thompson. Luc Mbah a Moute can’t guard Durant. And Crawford—whose scoring was desperately needed—can’t guard anyone. Los Angeles did get ever so brief moments of brightness from their bench, but that was largely a result of a juxtaposition against the starters’ struggles. Blake Griffin had a particularly miserable night, shooting 5-of-20 while giving away the ball seven times.
 
Los Angeles did get some good looks in the first half, but largely failed to capitalize. The Clips ultimately shot 39.6% from the field, and they will need to find a way to unlock Redick and Griffin—two players who can’t afford to lose their individual matchups—in future contests.
 
Golden State’s stars are not only immensely talented, they are incredibly unselfish. With Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant struggling from the outside, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson picked up the slack. Green was particularly effective, as the Clips often left him open in a deadly game of pick your poison. Green was more than happy to supply the arsenic, scoring 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting. As a team, the Dubs assisted on 32 of their 42 made field goals.
 
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If there is a sense of solace for the Clippers after Wednesday, it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs lost to Golden State twice last season, including a blowout defeat at home that produced the vine of Steph Curry snatching LeBron’s soul. Regular season losses to the Warriors are not a death sentence, as the Cavs proved, but Golden State’s addition of an MVP in the off-season also means the past may not be quite as forgiving as it seems.
 
For now, as much as we hope and wish and will ourselves to expect close games when the Warriors play, the reality is more often than not, Golden State wins big. The Warriors entered Thursday having won their last five games by an average of 21.4 points. The Dubs blew out the Clips on Wednesday, even with Durant having one of his worst games of the season.
 
Fortunately for those hoping for a little more drama, there’s plenty of season left to be played.  
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