While the faces of the franchise will make you think of Golden State as an offensive team, the truth is that, at their core, the Warriors are more like the Grizzlies than the Spurs. They are a team that wins because they have a tremendous defensive center and versatile wings up and down the roster that can defend multiple positions. Of course, Golden State is still a really fun team to watch offensively, but that's thanks to incredibly talented and creative players like Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut. Those guys are the makeup that covers up for what is schematically a very rudimentary, and often redundant, offense. Tonight we saw those schematic flaws exposed, and when the Clippers put their collective foot down defensively in the second half, the Warriors hit a wall offensively, and Golden State's defense wasn't able to make it through 48 minutes without succumbing to an 6-0 burst from the Clippers that pushed their lead up to 10 with four minutes left. At that point Mark Jackson pulled Bogut (five fouls) and Curry (seemingly hurt), all but ceding the game. This game was decided during a 10 minute span during the second half when the Clippers turned things around with their defense. Mid-way through the third period, Thompson and Curry hit back-to-back threes to give the Warriors their largest lead of the game, but soon after, Golden State's bench was forced into action, and their second unit mustered just three points (on a Harrison Barnes AND-1) in the final five minutes of the quarter. Things didn't get much better to start the fourth, either, as the Warriors didn't make a field goal until the 7:39 mark. The increase in defensive intensity was evident, and the Warriors' second unit simply couldn't handle it. Steve Blake has been great for the Warriors since coming over from the Lakers, but far too many times the ball found its way back into his hands at the tailend of a fruitless possession. The problem with the Warriors is that what little offensive fortune they do have all goes out the window when Curry heads to the bench because there is no system for the reserves to fall back on. If they face off against an athletic team like the Clippers that can handle the bland pick-and-rolls that the Warriors' back-ups will run, then you'll see Mark Jackson resort to things like Jermaine O'Neal post-ups, which aren't easy on the eyes. Of course, their bench won't always shoot this poorly, but there weren't a lot of times where I thought the Warriors got a great look as a result of their offense only to have it careen out. That defensive intensity didn't go away when the Warriors put their starters back in, and I think Darren Collison did a tremendous job defending Curry in the fourth, pressuring him up top and not allowing him to get free for any three-point looks. Thompson provided trouble all night long through post-ups and pindowns but outside of that and David Lee putting together a nice offensive game, the Clippers did a really good job of shutting down the Warriors offense. The Clippers had their ups and downs offensively in this one. There were times when the Warriors were able to bottle up LA's actions and force them into shots they normally don't want to take, and there were other times when Chris Paul was able to use secondary pick-and-rolls to find shooters wide open in the weakside corner. Paul was out of sync from the tip and needed a strong fourth quarter performance to salvage his night as a scorer, but he had 12 assists and did a good job orchestrating things against one of the league's best pick-and-roll defenses. While Blake's 30 points and 15 boards were certainly huge, who knows how this game would have turned out were it not for the huge contributions from Willie Green (13 points and three threes) and Danny Granger. Granger's play is obviously the big storyline tonight because he scored 18 points in an efficient manner while putting the ball in the basket in a variety of ways. We saw Granger flourish as a spot-up shooter off some pick-and-roll action, even acting as the shooting guard alongside the starters for a couple of stretches, and we also saw Doc call a couple of mid-post isolations for Granger to work one-on-one about 16 feet from the basket on the baseline.
Clippers Take Down The Warriors, 111-98
Clips Nation | Mar 13