That’s all it is. One game. Yes, the Warriors got absolutely throttled last night. Yes, the Clippers found their mojo and produced a prototypical performance that may have just re-tilted the series momentum in their favor. But…
Yes, the Warriors are still in a good spot.
There isn’t much positive to glean from last night’s blowout loss. From the opening tip, the Clippers pushed the pace to a level that the Warriors could not match, resulting in consistent, high-percentage looks for themselves, while forcing a bevy of turnovers that ultimately nullified whatever chance the Dubs had of getting back in the game. Yet, this wasn’t unexpected. Just as the Warriors’ Game 1 victory continued the theme of their 2013-14 campaign, so too did Game 2 for the Clippers. It wasn’t by accident that they had the second-best winning percentage in the league after January 1. It wasn’t by some miracle they stumbled into the #3 seed in the West. These guys are good. Really good. And Monday’s runaway was a loud reminder of that fact to any whom may have forgotten.
For the second game in a row, the Dubs played right into the hands of the Clips right out of the gate. Whereas it was a 12-1 deficit to begin Game 1, Los Angeles raced out to a 15-4 lead halfway through the first quarter, and never looked back. The Warriors didn’t do themselves any favors either, routinely careless with the ball on their way to racking up an ugly 26 turnovers in the game. That’s just far, far too many, particularly against a team like the Clippers that thrives off the fast break. As Mark Jackson always says, give them credit. The Clippers earned this one. They knew this was a game they had to have, and they looked like it. Yet, the Warriors can also look at themselves, and know that their careless play had just as much to do with knocking them out of the game. That’s two games in a row with 21 or more turnovers. Although they still managed to prevail in Game 1, Game 2 was a reminder that if you continue to play with fire, you’re bound to get burned.
However, I return to my opening thought: this was just one game. No doubt the Clippers were discouraged after coughing up Game 1 at home, but you didn’t see Doc Rivers & Co. overreacting to the defeat. No, they stayed the course and moved on to the next one, which is what the Dubs now must do. It’s what you have to do in the playoffs. Look, you’re going to lose tough games. You’re going to get blown out every once in awhile. That’s the nature of postseason play, and the Dubs have had more than their fair share of exposure to it over the last two seasons. Remember the feeling after Andre Miller scored the last-second layup on Draymond Green in Game 1 against the Nuggets a season ago, and all hope was lost? Remember how that, combined with the injury to David Lee, all but eliminated the Dubs from the playoffs?
Remember when it didn’t?
The point is, let’s not overreact. The series is now tied 1-1 and headed back to Oracle, which if you’re a Warriors fan, is something you definitely would have taken before the series began. It doesn’t really matter how the series got to be that way. It doesn’t really matter how much you win or lose by. All that matters is the end result, and we’re still a long, long way away from that.
Move on, refocus, and get ready for Game 3.
Oh, and what a game it could be. If you’re ears aren’t ringing yet, they will be soon enough. The raucous atmosphere of a playoff game at Oracle was the subject of several questions at the postgame pressers following Game 2, to the point that you have to wonder if it’s already had an effect on the series. Oracle is a very, very tough place for opponents to play in, especially with a playoff-enthused crowd rocking the arena. Warriors fans have known it for a long time, but the playoff runs of last season and ‘06-‘07 have truly opened the nation’s eyes to just how loud and crazy it can get in there. Now, any basketball person could tell you that it’s the people on the court, not the ones in the stands, that will determine the outcome of the game, and I’m inclined to agree. But let’s not discount the surroundings entirely. The crowd will certainly be an emotional boost for the Warriors at the very least, and in a matchup featuring two so closely-matched teams, it’s quite possible it could prove to be the difference.
But the Warriors would be unwise to use that as a crutch. The fact remains that the Dubs allowed the Clippers to score 31 points or more in every quarter of Monday’s game, and that simply cannot be repeated if they have any chance of taking a 2-1 series lead. They must value the basketball and keep the turnovers to a minimum, because the Clippers’ high-flying assault is perhaps the one thing that could take the air out of that building. And finally, they need to show some of that same resiliency that resulted in a Game 1 win. Look, the Clippers aren’t going to be satisfied with having evened up the series. They want home court advantage back, and they’re going to throw everything they have at the Warriors in order to regain it. As such, if things start taking a turn for the south, the Dubs must remain poised. Do not panic, do not become frazzled. They must realize they’ve been in all of these potential situations before, and they know how to deal with it.
Just as the Clippers are here for a reason, so too are the Warriors. Game 3 is about showing the world why.
Get your earplugs ready. It’s about to get really, really loud.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Golden State Warriors.