A Sunday tilt with the Warriors could foreshadow what’s to come for LA the rest of the year
It’s tough to call a loss with 20 games left in the NBA season devastating, but it’s just as difficult to find any other word to describe the Los Angeles Clippers’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
Now, the Clippers will face off against the Golden State Warriors Sunday nine games back in the division standings.
Worse yet, the game is in Oakland, where the Warriors crowd will undoubtedly be nothing short of rabid. In both games between these teams this season, the home team won handily.
The division might be out of reach, but the Clippers have a great chance at home court advantage in the first round of these playoffs. Both the Blazers and Houston Rockets will be missing key players for the foreseeable future and Blake Griffin (left) is on the verge of returning.
A win Sunday would go a long way in bridging the mere two-game gap separating spots four through six in the insane Western Conference.
In terms of matchups, it will be interesting to see how the adjustments Doc Rivers has made in Griffin’s absence will affect Golden State. More of the offensive burden has shifted to Chris Paul, who’s been absolutely magical in this increased role.
The question begs asking, though: Can he carry that burden while also guarding Stephen Curry? That seems like too much to ask, especially on the road.
DeAndre Jordan has also blossomed in Blake’s absence, but has had his struggles matched up against Andrew Bogut. If Jordan can’t produce the way he has been, where else might said production come from? If you have the answer to that question, I’m sure Doc would be all ears.
Another injury that would supremely hurt the Clippers’ chances is the strained hamstring that Matt Barnes is dealing with. Reporters are pointing to an absence Sunday, which means perennial sniper Klay Thompson (right) will likely see a heavy dose of either J.J. Redick or Austin Rivers.
That doesn’t sound ideal.
I’ve had little to no success making Clippers predictions, so for all I know, they’ll blow out the Warriors Sunday. But a thin team, in a hostile environment, against the class of the conference?
That could get ugly in a heartbeat.