The Golden State Warriors took a big first step in the quest to pull off an upset in this year’s NBA playoffs. In a battle of the best professional basketball teams in the state of California, the sixth-seeded Golden State Warriors went into Los Angeles to play the Clippers and won a gutsy first game, 109-105. This officially threw the gauntlet down in this series. This was a must win for the Warriors. If the Warriors want to avoid a Game 7 at the Staples Center,so is the next game. Had the Clippers won this game, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin’s power and momentum would have been almost impossible to stop, especially paired with the coaching of Doc Rivers. If all that fails for the Clippers, game seven would be in Los Angeles. The Golden State Warriors would greatly increase their chances of winning of the best of seven series, and advancing onto the second round, by taking Game two.
This 3-6 match-up mirrors the 3-6 series in the East between Toronto and Brooklyn. Both three-seeds have the unfortunate task of playing a six-seed that can legitimately win the NBA championship. Brooklyn has been playing as well as anybody in the league, record-wise, since the All-Star break. Not to mention they swept the four-game season series between the defending two-time champions, Miami Heat. They are a veteran packed team, coached by one of the great steady heads in the NBA, Jason Kidd. Kidd is a first year coach who just played last year in the league. He is a future hall of fame inductee, but he definitely drew criticism from people who thought he got the job too soon. He has something to prove and that’s not good for the Toronto Raptors, a young three seed. The Clippers are facing a proud, smart coach in Mark Jackson, who is one of the most competitive people to play point guard in the NBA. It is certain that he knows River’s resume. Just looking at resumes, Doc Rivers is a better coach. Jackson has something to prove, too. There are a few other things that are not good for the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warrior’s David Lee is a good place to start. He is an oak, a hardworking oak that is almost guaranteed to give his team 20 points and 10 rebounds. His regular season average in those categories was 18 and 9 respectively.This can’t be overstated. Having someone like a David Lee to fall back on in the grind, that is the NBA playoffs, takes a lot of pressure off of a young, but highly intelligent and inspiring coach, Mark Jackson, and young star, Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry plays a lot of minutes in big games for his team. He is a phenomenal talent and very cool under pressure but can make mistakes out of fatigue or youth. The unbelievable thing is that this version of Stephen Curry only shows up, at the most, twenty percent of the time in a game. That is the other part of the make-up of Golden State that is bad for the Clippers. You can not go into a big game and count on him to not play well. And if he does, Klay Thompson is right next to him with his extra long wing-span, that gives the opposite team fits. This was borne out by how tough he played Chris Paul. Mark Jackson understood that his team’s defense is where they are going to have to show up big to win game one. The Golden State Warriors as a team played like they knew they needed to win Game 1 and Game 2 to see the second round.
Paul ended up with 28 points on 10-23 shooting. The context,though ,is that Blake Griffin, his favorite target for assists, got into foul trouble early, which put him on the bench for most of the game. While he was on the bench, Paul had to take over the scoring for the Clippers. A scoring point guard , the caliber of Chris Paul, is found very rarely and that is something Golden State is going to have to contain if they are going to see the second round. This gets more important when you look at the fact Golden State is facing an experienced coach. Debates can be had about who has the best talent. But World Champion Coach Doc Rivers will get picked first every time up against Mark Jackson. Jackson knows this and needs to level the playing field. Klay Thompson’s length went a long way to getting the Golden State Warriors a win that sets up a crucial game two.
Doc Rivers and Chris Paul are basketball geniuses in their respective roles. They have the seventh game at home. The Golden State Warriors must win Game 2 to make it out of the second round because if they have to return to play a prime-time game seven and take it away from Paul, Griffin and Doc, they will face behemoth odds.
by Daryl McElveen