Game 3 of the best-of-seven series between California rivals, the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers will take place Thursday night at the Staples Center. It's been a dramatic series so far. The Warriors, the defending NBA champions, took game one 121-104 but saw a personal game-long battle between Clippers guard Pat Beverley and Warriors forward Kevin Durant that led to both players getting ejected. In game two, with the Warriors up by 31, the Clippers did the improbable and erased the massive deficit to beat the Warriors 135-131.
While many consider the Clippers team a cast of journeymen and a team that wasn’t expected to make the playoffs, the Clippers have character traits embedded in their roster that is admirable. Sixth man, Lou Williams, is a scoring machine who can light up the scoreboard on anyone anytime. There is Pat Beverley who lends credence to the theme it’s not about the size of the dog but the fight in that dog. Beverley, at just 6’1", believes he can guard anyone on a basketball court and he gives no quarter in his on-court battles with Durant in this series.
Golden State Warriors Starters:
The Warriors will start Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green.
Los Angeles Clippers Starters:
The Clippers will counter with Patrick Beverley, Landry Shamet, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ivica Zubac, and Danilo Gallinari.
Expectations, Why and Prediction:
The Clippers play basketball with passion, hustle, and hard work. This explains why they made the playoffs with two rookies starting in their lineup. They also feature a young rising star in Montrezl Harrell who scored 25 points off the bench Monday night. There is also 6th man aficionado, Lou Williams, who is a master scorer at the mid-range game and he had 36 points off of the Clippers' bench Monday night in the great comeback.
Also, throw in Patrick Beverley’s bulldog approach to the game which makes up for any lack of flash or talent. He is disruptive to opposing offenses with his defense. Right now, with two games into this series, Beverley’s made a huge impact getting into the head of one cool customer Kevin Durant.
Expect the Clippers to make game 3 in Los Angeles a scrappy affair. The Warriors are a silky smooth skilled and talented group. However, the Clippers were effective in making the game on Monday night choppy and physical.
While this resulted in the Warriors shooting 40/45 from the free-throw line, the Clippers were 25/31, meaning both teams combined for 76 free-throws. By using their fouls smartly, the Clippers stopped the clock quite a bit, allowing themselves to rest but also slowing down the open court and transitional scoring opportunities for the Warriors to feast upon.
The Warriors are a great team. They had the third-best record this season at 57-25 and are the reigning champions. However, they are prone to these games, like game 2 where they can either cough up huge leads or get blown out. Early season games against the Thunder, Rockets and the Raptors are prime examples.
What also did not help the Warriors on Monday night was that they coughed up the ball a lot, recording 22 turnovers. The Clippers were not much better with 19 themselves.
Another area that will hurt the Warriors is that they will need to find a way to keep the Clippers defense honest and less aggressive on their shooters. The Warriors lost one of NBA’s premier post players in DeMarcus Cousins to a torn left quadriceps early in Monday night's contest. His replacement, Andrew Bogut is more of a passer and a perimeter shooter who spaces the floor. This loss showed on the stat sheet with the Clippers recording 50 points in the paint to only 42 from the Warriors.
Even with the loss of DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors are a great team poised to try and repeat as NBA champions for a third consecutive year. The Clippers will not make it easy for the Warriors, especially at the Staples Center. Game three should be close but expect the Warriors to win by a 7-point margin.