Maybe Magic Johnson was onto something. The Lakers legend tweeted that the Clippers could reach the Western Conference finals if they moved up in the standings … which would allow them to avoid the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs.
The Warriors certainly looked like a scary matchup for the Clippers after holding on for a 115-112 victory Saturday night at Staples Center in a game that wasn't nearly that close. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. The Warriors are clearly the superior team right now
DeAndre Jordan refusing to acknowledge a question about this topic, looking blankly around the interview room for 10 seconds, doesn’t change the facts. The Warriors have won five consecutive games against the Clippers and earned a road sweep over them for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Golden State had assists on 32 of its 42 baskets, becoming the picture of unselfishness and team play. “They are sort of becoming like San Antonio in that they won’t beat themselves, you’ve got to beat them,” Clippers point guard Chris Paul said. “We didn’t communicate as well as we could have tonight and they made us pay when we didn’t.” Golden State’s Draymond Green recorded his 11th triple-double of the season with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, becoming the first non-guard to tally 11 triple-doubles in a single season since Grant Hill had 13 in 1996-97.
2. The Clippers weren't good on offense or defense
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers derided his team for standing around too much and overly relying on isolation plays, saying its poor play on offense bled over to its defense. The Clippers certainly had no answers for the Warriors' constant cutting and crisp ball movement. "We gave up a lot of points on things we went over in shootaround and practice, and when you play a team as good as the Warriors you can't have those mistakes," Jordan said. "When you do, they make you pay for it."
3. Jeff Green didn't have the greatest of debuts
His turnovers and inability to stay in front of his man on defense were more memorable than his five points, two rebounds and one assist. "He didn't know what to do and we really didn't know what to do with him," Rivers said. "He's such a great passer, and I thought we put him in the pole spot to be a scorer, which I thought was not great offense from us."
4. It felt almost like a home game for the Warriors
Golden State's baskets were cheered by large pockets of fans and the team was serenaded with occasional chants of "Let's go Warriors!" It was almost fitting that the Warriors wore their home whites with the Clippers opting for their black alternate uniforms.
5. The schedule takes an easier turn for the Clippers this week
They can exhale a bit, at least in theory, with games against the fading Phoenix Suns on Monday, sub.-500 Denver Nuggets on Wednesday and turmoil-ridden Sacramento Kings on Friday. Anything less than 3-0 should be considered a disappointment.