Clippers ready for Steph Curry, Klay Thompson
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — The Clippers and the Golden State Warriors are a perfect example of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.
Consider: The Clippers had the best defense in the NBA against the three-point shot, holding opponents to 33.2-percent; Warriors guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson led the league in three-pointers made during the regular season.
Curry and Thompson are just as likely to pull up for a long-distance shot off the fast break as they are to drive for a layup. Give them an open spot on the floor and they’ll fire away.
"That’s the way they get going, him and Klay," Clippers guard Chris Paul said of Curry, who led Golden State in scoring at 24.0 points a game. "They shoot threes, they make a lot of threes and they attempt a lot of them. We’ve got to make those guys defend, try to make Steph guard."
In Game 1 of their first-round best-of-seven series that starts Saturday at 12:30 p.m., the Clippers know they’ll face a team that won’t hesitate to shoot jumpers from beyond the arc â and from anywhere on the floor. One way to slow them down, as Paul said, is to make them work on defense.
Another is to never let Curry and Thompson out of their sight.
"Some of the threes we gave up to those guys in the regular season were off loose balls or in transition," guard J.J. Redick said. "Or you turn your head for one second and all of a sudden Klay is running to the corner and gets an open look.
"We have to have great awareness, a sense of where they are at all times, and then we have to play our schemes."
Curry led the league in three-pointers made (261); Thompson (223) was second. Both shot better than 41 percent. The Clippers gave up an average of 7.3 three-pointers per game, fewer than all but six teams.
In a Dec. 25 game against the Clippers, Curry made 9 of 14 three-pointers on his way to scoring 38 points. In his final three regular-season games, he was a combined 18 of 32 from long range.
"Let me just say, if I was Curry, I wouldn’t go for a fast break either," coach Doc Rivers said. "I’d pull up. If I had that cannon, I’d shoot it every time, and that’s what he does."
So how to stop them?
"You have to get back in transition and match up early," Rivers said, "But they’re good."
Hatred no, dislike yes
While forward Blake Griffin continued to distance himself from any discussion involving a personal hatred for the Warriors, teammate Matt Barnes was more forthcoming. Sort of.
"We’re two similar teams that historically have been toward the bottom, and now we have a chance to fight for a title," Barnes said Friday. "So there’s going to be some hostility and animosity and hatred."
Hatred? Well, not exactly.
"It’s a dislike, not only for them but everybody in the playoffs," he said. "Everybody’s fighting for the same goal. We don’t like anybody."
Griffin was asked if he and Warriors center Jermaine O’Neal have a lingering issue between them after a confrontation during and after a game on March 12 at Staples.
"I don’t have Jermaine’s number, so I don’t really talk to him," Griffin answered. "So I don’t know if there’s a lingering issue or not."
If there is, it will quickly rise to the surface in Game 1.