The Clippers host the Warriors Saturday night in the first back-to-back situation of the season for both teams. The Clippers are coming off an impressive 10-point win over the Lakers, while the Warriors are looking to bounce back after falling 104-94 to the Grizzlies last night at Oracle Arena.
Last season, the Clippers were 10-7 in the second game of a back-to-back while the Warriors went 7-9.
Warriors’ center Andrew Bogut will be held out of tonight’s game after playing 18 minutes in Friday’s loss to the Grizzlies. Head Coach Mark Jackson said he planned to rest Bogut on the back-end of back-to-back games early this season to help ease Bogut and his surgically repaired left ankle back into game shape.
It is the first of four meetings between the teams this season and the only game scheduled in the 2012 calendar year. The teams will not see each other again until January 2 when the Clippers travel to Oracle Arena. They split their four meetings last year with each team winning a game on the other’s home court.
A season ago, the first meeting between these two teams had added significance for the Clippers (2-0) as the Christmas night affair was the team’s first opportunity to show off their newly acquired point guard Chris Paul. The floor general made quite the first impression with his new team, scoring eight of his 20 points in the final 6:08 of the game, including six-straight in a one-minute span to help turn a three-point lead into a blowout. He scored or assisted on 17 of the Clippers’ final 21 points in the victory.
Fast forward to tonight’s match up, both teams are generating excitement with the Clippers integrating offseason acquisitions Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes among others into the rotation. The Warriors (1-1) showcase nearly an entirely new starting lineup with Stephen Curry and David Lee the holdovers from last season’s starting five.
Klay Thompson, the second-year shooting guard out of Washington State, is already being regarded as one of the best pure shooters in the NBA and rookie Harrison Barnes is considered a top prospect despite scoring just 14 points combined in 46 total minutes after two games.
LAST TIME OUT
Clippers 105, Lakers 95: The Clippers outscored the Lakers 30-20 in the third quarter and that proved to be the difference, helping the Clippers win on the Lakers home floor for the first time since April 14, 2007 and sending their rival to their first 0-3 start to a season since the 1978-79 season. Crawford led the Clippers in scoring for the second straight game, dropping 21 points on 5-of-12 shooting including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. Paul looked to be in midseason form, scoring 18 points and dishing out 15 assists to go along with three steals.
“We were just playing the way we are capable of playing,” Crawford said. “They made their runs, they’re a great team, but we stayed poised. We ran our sets and executed…We have a deep team.”
Grizzlies 104, Warriors 94: The Warriors got off to a slow start in each half, getting outscored 52-36 in the first and third quarters combined to drop to 1-1 on the young season. As a team the Warriors shot 36-of-80 (45%) from the field and 10-of-20 (50%) from 3-point land but were outrebounded 40-36. Curry led the team in scoring with 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Brandon Rush, who signed a two-year deal in July and was tied for sixth in 3-point shooting last season, suffered a left knee injury early in the first quarter after a collision with Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph.
Blake Griffin vs. Carl Landry: David Lee may be slated to start opposite of Griffin at the beginning of the game, but Landry should see extended minutes due to Bogut’s absence.
Griffin has not lit up the scoreboard in the first two games, scoring a combined 26 points and grabbing a total of 15 rebounds. He has had a tough match up on the defensive end in both games to start the season and Landry, considered one of the better post defenders in the NBA, could be a thorn in Griffin’s side.
TWO THINGS TO WATCH
The 3-point Line: The Warriors have traditionally been a high-scoring offense thanks to the 3-point shot and this season should be no different with sharpshooters Thompson and Curry. The Warriors made 10-of-20 from distance in last night’s loss to the Grizzlies.
The Clippers put an emphasis on perimeter defense during the preseason and held the Grizzlies to 2-of-14 (14.2%) from beyond the arc on opening night, but then allowed the Lakers to make 7-of-16 (43.8%) 3-pointers Friday. It will continue to be a work in progress in early stages of the season.
“We’ve got to clean up some things,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said of the team’s defensive performance against the Lakers. “Our double teaming at times was poor I thought. We let them baseline too much whether it was guards or bigs. Our rotations were a little slow defensively. In that second quarter they got some long rebounds we didn’t get a body on people and offensively it’s just about being together, time, rhythm, all timing stuff.”
Bench Play: In just three games this season, the Clippers have already shown that their bench is one of the best in the league. Crawford has proven capable of lighting up the scoreboard in a reserve role throughout his career.
Eric Bledsoe brings energy on both ends of the floor and with Matt Barnes able to guard three positions, the second unit should prove to be a big factor in the outcome of Saturday’s game, especially against a depleted Warriors team missing Bogut and potentially Rush.
Grant Hill (right knee), Trey Thompkins (left knee) and Chauncey Billups (Achilles tendon rehab) will not play for the Clippers…The Clippers defeated the Warriors, 88-71 on October 22 in their lone preseason matchup… DeAndre Jordan signed an offer sheet with the Warriors on Dec. 11 last season, which the Clippers matched a day later… Del Negro played for the Warriors in the 2000-01 season while Warriors head coach Mark Jackson played for the Clippers from 1992-94.