Editor’s Note: Here is the first post from new coming writer Josh Neighbors. Give him a welcome greeting as he joins us to cover the Clippers in the playoffs.
Nobody can argue that the Los Angeles Clippers-Golden State Warriors playoff series will be the most entertaining and physical series in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs. Even without Andrew Bogut, there are plenty of fascinating matchups. Here is a positional breakdown.
Chris Paul vs. Warriors: 3 GP, 38 MPG, 28.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 12.7 APG, 47FG%, 33 3P%, 93FT%
Stephen Curry vs. Clippers: 4 GP, 36 MPG, 22.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 9.5 APG, 52FG%, 58 3P%, 100FT%
Chris Paul is the consensus best point guard in the game today, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s got the upper hand in this position battle. Stephen Curry is a combo guard and while he might not be a traditional point guard, he is still incredibly effective. With Curry’s scoring ability, it’s Paul’s defense that will be put to the test in this series. Defensively, Curry’s weak ankles hinder his lateral movement, evident when Chris Paul went for 42 points against the Warriors earlier this season. Because Steph Curry handles the ball so much, we will get a chance to see see a fantastic battle of offense versus defense between two All-Star point guards. Gotta give Paul the edge though because he’s the better two-way player.
J.J. Redick vs. Warriors: 2 GP, 29.3 MPG, 14.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 40FG%, 53 3P%, 100FT%
Klay Thompson vs. Clippers: 4 GP, 37.1 MPG, 18.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 46FG%, 42 3P%, 61 FT%
Klay Thompson is the bonafide shooting guards. The Clippers really have three, with J.J. Redick missing a sizeable part of the season. Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison did an excellent job filling in during Redick’s absence. Expect to see a lot of Darren Collison on Klay Thompson and maybe Matt Barnes as well. The Clippers goal defensively is to force Thompson to settle for contested threes. Considering Thompson is a knock-down three-point shooter, the settling part takes care of itself, so the challenge will be to get a hand in his face. Whenever Curry drives off of a pick-and-roll, Thompson is usually open in the corner for a kick-out three. The Clippers perimeter defenders have to make sure they don’t help off too much on the drive and get lost while rotating defensively. Jamal Crawford versus Klay Thomspon will be an excellent matchup, especially in crunch time.
Matt Barnes vs. Warriors: 4 GP, 23.6 MPG, 3.8 PPG, 3.3 RPB, 3.0 APG, 22FG%, 22 3P%, 83FT%
Andre Iguodala vs. Clippers: 4 GP, 34.4 MPG, 11.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.5 APG, 59FG%, 50 3P%, 50FT%
I’m a huge Andre Iguodala fan and I’m not sure if there is another guy in the league that can have a huge impact on a game without scorig 20-plus points. His impact is immense on defense, on the boards, leadership, and basically everything that does not involve scoring. He’s better than any small forward the Clippers will throw out there, but that’s not to say that the Clips won’t hold their own in that position. With the steady hand of Matt Barnes and Danny Granger coming back from injury, they matchup with Iguodala, Draymond Green, and a struggling Harrison Barnes. While the Warriors have the best player at the position, the Clippers have better depth due to the consistency in which Barnes and Granger play with. Expect a pretty even matchup coming from the small forward position and a matchup that won’t be won by who scores more points, because these guys are all about defense. In the end, the Warriors have a slight advantage in this category due to the all-around, tremendous play of Andre Iguodala.
Blake Griffin vs. Warriors: 4 GP, 37.1 MPG, 25.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.0 AST, 53FG%, 56FT%
David Lee vs. Clippers: 4 GP, 33.7 MPG, 21.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 58FG%, 84FT%
David Lee has got to be frustrated with Klay Thompson for callin Blake Griffin a bull in a china shop and a flopper. David Lee is going to get smoked by Blake Griffin and with no Andrew Bogut behind him, Lee could be exposed during this series. Blake will likely finish third in the MVP voting this year and has owned the Warriors this year, giving the Clippers a clear advantage at power forward.
DeAndre Jordan vs. Warriors: 4 GP, 38.4 MPG, 10.3 PPG, 15.3 RPG, 0.5 APG, 64FG%, 34FT%
Jermaine O’Neal vs. Clippers: 2 GP, 15.8 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 18FG%
Deandre Jordan will be dealing with Jermaine O’Neal at the center position as both Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezili are out indefinitely for Golden State. It is now clear that in the post is where the Clippers will win this series and the loss of Bogut was the affirmation of the claim. That being said, it’s going to be fun to watch Jordan and O’Neal battle on the glass. Jordan, the best rebounder in the league statistically, will go toe-to-toe with a ‘rejuvenated’ Jermaine O’Neal who is the definition of a blue-collar guy that knows how to box out. Neither of these guys are offensive powerhouses, so naturally this matchup will be won with defense and rebounding, I gotta give Jordan the edge here.
Even though the Clippers seem to have an advantage at 4 of the 5 positions, expect a good series with flagrant fouls, technicals, and many close games.