The Golden State Warriors were anything but perfect on Saturday afternoon in their game one win over the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs. Fortunately the Warriors didn’t need to be perfect, they only needed to out smart Blake Griffin and the Clippers. In spite of Chris Paul doing his normal thing, the Golden State Warriors were able to bother Griffin to the point of limiting him to 16 points, 19 minutes, and fouling out in the fourth quarter. Griffin’s frustration with the Warriors (and officiating) was made obvious when he “accidentally” dumped water on a nearby Warriors’ fan.
The strategy for Golden State was fairly obvious from the beginning of the game. Mark Jackson wanted his team to go after the Clippers’ twin towers of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Jermaine O’Neal showed up big for the Warriors by playing a big 25 minutes. Though O’Neal only scored 13 points for Golden State, it was his constant pressure on Griffin that led to the frustration. Griffin, who is two technical fouls away from a suspension, has a big target on his back and the strategy to guard him is clear. All it takes is for the Golden State Warriors to get one technical foul on him and they give themselves a huge advantage.
With Blake Griffin out of the game, the Clippers were seriously deficient in low post scoring. Perimeter scoring was not a problem, with J.J. Reddick and Chris Paul combining for 50 points and shooting 9-14 from beyond the arc. But without Griffin, DeAndre Jordan is practically useless on offense. And Glen “Big Baby” Davis is not the answer in Griffin’s absence. David Lee and Harrison Barnes will dominate this series for the Golden State Warriors if Blake does not get his head together.
Another major issue for the Clippers is the loss of home court advantage. The Golden State Warriors are notorious for their home crowds and another close game in Los Angeles will give the Warriors crowd plenty of confidence for game three. Stephen Curry will have a tough series against Chris Paul no matter what, but it seems that the Clippers have no answer for Klay Thompson. Thompson dominated the offensive end against smaller defenders and bothered Paul enough on defense to upset the Clippers’ flow.
The Golden State Warriors showed how badly they want this series in Saturday’s 2014 NBA playoffs first round win. It will be interesting to see if Blake Griffin responds by showing up for game two or gives in to more frustration.
[Image via Kevin Sullivan/ZUMAPRESS.com]