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With the NBA Playoffs about to begin, what better time is there to bring back the Bloggers Roundtable? As we’ve done in this space in the past, we asked the same set of Warriors-related questions to independent media members to get their unfiltered view on the team. Grant Hughes (Bleacher Report) and Steve Berman (Bay Area Sports Guy) and Jordan Ramirez (Warriors World), who makes his Bloggers Roundtable debut, offer their thoughts on the Warriors-Clippers first round playoff series. We let them take it from here …

What are you most looking forward to in the Warriors-Clippers series?

Grant Hughes | Bleacher Report | @g30three
It might not be the best strategy for the Warriors, and it's certainly not the one that got them to where they are, but I'm excited to watch some throwback Dubs small-ball. Going small is Golden State's only viable option without Andrew Bogut on the floor, and it'll create significant vulnerabilities on D and on the glass.

But with some pace and space, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson could get loose. Draymond Green has been hot from long range over the past few weeks, and Harrison Barnes dropped 30 in the season finale. Playing with just one conventional big is a little scary, but it also gives the Warriors a shot to do some real damage from the perimeter and in transition.

Steve Berman | Bay Area Sports Guy | @BASportsGuy
It's got to be Stephen Curry vs. Chris Paul. Curry made a case to be named first team All-NBA on the court, and his coach made the case for Curry to receive that honor in recent interviews. Meanwhile, Paul surely wants to remind everyone that he's the league's best guard. With the possible exception of Russell Westbrook ... wait, forget it -- exclude Westbrook. These are the two best point guards in the NBA, and watching them go head-to-head (even if they don't defend each other all the time) is a treat for basketball fans everywhere.

Runner-up: despite both teams maintaining there's nothing to see here as far as a rivalry is concerned, there's a rivalry here. It's always fun whenever two talented teams who are familiar with each other's styles and can't stand each other go head-to-head in a series. The officials may have their hands full with this one, especially if the Warriors go into hack-a-Jordan mode (which they should).

Jordan Ramirez | Warriors World | @JRAM_91
The battle between the two best point guards in the league will be fascinating. Stephen Curry has established himself as one of the ten best players in the league and Chris Paul has been the ideal model for an NBA point guard for years. Curry should be the favorite for All-NBA first team, and that’s no slight to Paul. Something tells me Paul will take this personally, and add on the already brewing hatred between the two teams, this has all the makings of a classic battle. Paul has been the model for consistency at the position, but his playoff record is rather underwhelming considering his hailed regular season success. Kobe Bryant once called him the second best competitor in the league (you can guess who Bryant said was the best), and there’s no denying that both teams wanted this series. Curry is the superior all-around scoring threat, but Paul has the monster that is Blake Griffin on his side. How will each manage their teams? Can Curry carry the team on his back like he has all season? Is Paul due for one deep playoff run? There are storylines galore in this series, with the most intriguing being at the point-guard position.

Does the Stephen Curry-Chris Paul matchup make this the most interesting first round playoff series this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below. (photo: Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty)

How will the experience from last year’s playoff run impact the Warriors?

Steve Berman | Bay Area Sports Guy | @BAAportsGuy
Experience helps in a lot of ways. Curry knows he can take over in this environment. Klay Thompson had some great moments a year ago, particularly Game 2 in San Antonio. Draymond Green is a completely different player now, but his role was increased during the 2013 playoffs so there shouldn't be much of an adjustment period for him, if any. Even Harrison Barnes, whose regression has been a story for much of his second season, can look back to what happened last year and hope to recapture that feeling.

Last year's experience also means there won't be all those "firsts" to talk about -- first playoff game, first home playoff game, first opportunity to put away a series. The Warriors will have to play a completely different style this time without Andrew Bogut and Jarrett Jack, but the experience should definitely be a bonus to the team's younger players, and quite possibly Mark Jackson as well.

Jordan Ramirez | Warriors World | @JRAM_91
Four of the five Warriors starters last season were playing in their first postseason. The rise of Stephen Curry into superstardom has put all eyes on him, especially those of the Clippers. Curry has seen every possible look from opposing defenses all season, but with two playoff series under his belt he is fully capable of handling not only the various looks Los Angeles will force on him, but the increased pressure of playoff games. He’s no stranger to the bright lights, and Curry has taken his game to incredible levels when the lights are shining the brightest. JJ Redick is no Kawhi Leonard, and while Klay Thompson will see a good amount of Chris Paul on the defensive end, the Clippers have no elite perimeter defender to shade the new and improved Thompson. Harrison Barnes will be asked to contribute even more with Andrew Bogut out, especially when Mark Jackson goes with a smaller, 4-out lineup. Barnes flourished against Denver last postseason in this same scenario, and with a 30-point game to finish the regular season his confidence should be at the highest it’s been all season. David Lee will once again be heading into the postseason hobbling, but his importance will be exponentially greater with his frontcourt mate sidelined. He is the best low-post scoring threat on the team and will face off with Blake Griffin for the majority of the series. Aside from Curry, Lee will carry the toughest tasks on both ends of the floor. Playoff experience isn’t exclusive to players either. Mark Jackson has faced off with George Karl, Gregg Popovich and will now go against Doc Rivers. Many have criticized Jackson for his rotations, use (or lack thereof) of timeouts and his offensive sets in the halfcourt. With two playoff series on his resumė and his best interior defender (and rebounder) out, how will Jackson adjust? The answer is the key to this series.

Grant Hughes | Bleacher Report | @g30three
I think the most important thing they'll take from last year's run is the knowledge that they don't need to have all hands on deck to be dangerous. When David Lee went down in Game 1 of the first-round series against the Denver Nuggets, it seemed like a devastating blow. But the Warriors adjusted on the fly and took the series handily.

Playing without Bogut changes Golden State's makeup in a bigger way, and the Clippers are a much more formidable foe than Denver was. But knowing the absence of a key player isn't necessarily fatal should give the Dubs some valuable confidence.

The Warriors begin their playoff series with the Clippers this Saturday in Los Angeles (photo: Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty)

What do you think will be the X-factor in determining the outcome of this series?

Jordan Ramirez | Warriors World | @JRAM_91
How will the Warriors defend the Clippers frontcourt, specifically Blake Griffin? The loss of Andrew Bogut will dramatically hurt the Warriors presence inside, especially defensively. While Griffin can hit the occasional jumper (37% from midrange on the season), he does the majority of his work on the inside, an area where Bogut has been a force for the Warriors all season. Boxing out Griffin and Jordan on the glass will also be key, as they account for the most athletic frontcourt in the NBA as well (Jordan led the NBA in rebounding this season at 13.6 RPG). The loss of the Aussie will force the Warriors into smaller lineups, leaving Jermaine O’Neal as the only consistent center in his absence. If they can force the Clippers to go small and force a track meet, their chances of success increase dramatically. Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala can handle the tougher defensive assignments out on the perimeter, but Draymond Green, David Lee and O’Neal will have to mix and match defensively and force the Clippers into uncomfortable looks and situations. If the Warriors can force the Clippers bigs into early foul trouble and force the Clippers into smaller lineups and their suspect bench, the Warriors will be in good shape even without their defensive anchor.

Grant Hughes | Bleacher Report | @g30three
It has to be Curry, doesn't it?

Without a defensive anchor, Golden State will rely on its offense to keep pace with the Clips' league-best scoring attack. And since we know the Warriors' offense flourishes with Curry on the floor and wilts without him, he's easily the most significant figure in this series. L.A. will focus its entire defensive scheme on taking the ball out of his hands, but that's nothing new.

We've seen Curry ignite against all manner of defensive pressure before. To give the Dubs a fighting chance, he'll have to do it again. Steph absolutely has to be great to swing this series in Golden State's favor. Not "very good." Not "pretty impressive." Great.

Steve Berman | Bay Area Sports Guy | @BAAportsGuy
I'm guessing Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green will get a lot of mentions here, but I'm going with Andre Iguodala. He has 41 games of playoff experience, he's been conserving energy over the second half so he could rest his knee (translation: max out in the postseason), and it certainly wasn't his fault the Nuggets fell to the Warriors in the first round a year ago. He averaged 18 ppg 8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2 spg and shot 50% from the field (48.3% on threes) in that series, and why George Karl never put him on Curry is anybody's guess.

Iguodala's responsibilities could include guarding Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford and/or Chris Paul, running the offense to give Curry some time off the ball, and shouldering more of the scoring load in what could be a fairly fast-paced series. If Iguodala can come close to matching his first round production from last year, the Warriors could surprise some people.

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Golden State Warriors.

 

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