The Golden State Warriors travel to Staples Center tonight to face the LA Clippers after utterly demolishing them on Saturday. This time around, Blake Griffin needs to perform at an elite level for the Clippers to have a chance.
A Brief History
The Warriors have won 8 straight games against the Clippers. Of these, 2 have come this season. The Clippers seemed to hang their head early in Saturday’s loss. After the game, head coach Doc Rivers was asked whether or not the Warriors had a mental advantage over the Clippers. He responded:
Article continues below ...
”Well, they should have one if they don’t. … If I won eight games in a row, I would have a mental edge.”
January 28, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
So, Saturday still stings. The Clippers, in their worst loss of the season, couldn’t stop Golden State. The Warriors rained down bucket after bucket and Stephen Curry sprinted laps around the court. Needless to say, it was the last sight fans or players wanted to see.
The Clippers gave up 144 points while allowing Golden State to do whatever they wanted. At this point, fans around the NBA question whether there’s even a rivalry between the two teams, due to the Warriors dominance.
For Thursday, the team looks to send out the same starting lineup. The absence of Chris Paul will definitely still be felt, but expect Austin Rivers to have an improved game after going only 3 for 11 from the field in their last match-up. DJ also needs to show some improvement after only nabbing 5 rebounds Saturday and being ejected Wednesday.
However, for the Clippers to win, Blake Griffin needs to be assertive early. In Phoenix last night, Griffin had 13 points in the first quarter. He continued his tear into the second half, finishing with 29 points, which tied a season high. He also grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 5 assists while providing several highlight plays.
Blake desperately needs to keep this momentum going. If he can keep the pressure on Draymond Green and possibly get him into foul trouble, it will open up room for other Clippers’ players to score.
Not only does the aggressiveness need to come in the form of scoring, but he also has to try and be the primary play-maker. For as well as Austin has been playing, Blake should still be the top choice to initiate plays. A 4 man running the offense isn’t a common occurrence (yet) and can cause confusion among defenses. The 2 man game between Blake and J.J. Redick is deadly when run correctly. If the two of them can both heat up early, the Clips have a greater chance at pulling out a victory.