GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (51-31)
at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (57-25)
NBA Playoffs - Western Conference First Round
Tip-off: Saturday, 3:35 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -7, Total: 211.5
The 2014 playoffs begin for the Warriors and Clippers this Saturday afternoon when they meet for Game 1 at Staples Center.
Golden State put together an exciting season with the “splash brothers” and eventually finished in sixth place in the Western Conference. The team played well over its final stretch of games, winning five of its last seven SU (6-1 ATS), including 2-1 SU (3-0 ATS) in its last three away games. The Warriors had a strong showing in last year's playoffs as the sixth seed, defeating the Nuggets in six games before giving the Spurs a run for their money, taking the series to six games but eventually faltering to the more experienced and talented team. Los Angeles really turned it on down the stretch, winning 20 of its final 25 games (15-9-1 ATS) to close the regular season. They have won 7-of-10 games coming into the playoffs with all three losses coming against other Western Conference playoff teams (Dallas, Oklahoma City, Portland). L.A. was the No. 4 seed in last season’s playoffs, but could not overcome the stingy defense of the Grizzlies, and after winning the first two games of the series, the club lost four in a row and was sent home after the first round. Golden State played very well on the road this season, going 24-17 SU while putting together a 23-18 ATS record. On the other hand, the Clippers were a force at home with a 34-7 SU mark (21-20 ATS) and won their games there by an average of 10.8 PPG. All four games in the season series were won by the home club, with only one game decided by less than 11 points. Los Angeles was 3-1 ATS in the series and rolled to wins of 126-115 and 111-98 when the teams last met on March 12, as the Clippers outshot the Warriors 49% FG to 44% FG. Going back three seasons, Golden State holds the series advantage with a 7-5 record (SU and ATS) against its first round opponent, and the club is also 14-2 ATS after two straight games where both teams scored 100+ points in the past two seasons. But L.A. benefits from the fact that favorites of 3.5 points to 9.5 points with an excellent offense (102+ PPG) versus a poor defense (98-102 PPG) after 42+ games, after a combined score of 205+ points in four straight games are 35-9 ATS (80%) since 1996. Both teams are relatively healthy coming into the playoffs with C Andrew Bogut (ribs) expected to miss the first few games of the series for the Warriors and SF Danny Granger (hamstring) is probable for the Clippers after missing the last nine games of the season.
Golden State once again will play a first-round series against the NBA’s best offense, and will counter with a team that has put up 104.3 PPG (10th in league) this season while hitting 38.0% of its three-pointers (4th in NBA). The Warriors finished out the season by scoring 114.8 PPG (48.1% FG) over their final five games, but allowed their opponents to score 109.2 PPG (44.4% FG) in that time as well. Overall on the season, their defense gave up just 99.5 PPG (10th in NBA) on 43.6% FG (4th in league) and 34.4% threes (3rd in NBA). PG Stephen Curry (24.0 PPG, 8.5 SPG, 1.6 SPG) made more three-point shots (261) than anyone else in the NBA this season and was impressive over his final four games with 33.3 PPG, 9.5 APG, 5.8 RPG and 3.0 SPG before sitting out the final contest for rest. He was solid against the Clips this season over four games too, averaging 22.0 PPG (53% FG) to go along with 9.5 APG and 4.5 RPG. PF David Lee (18.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG) missed some time late in the season with a sore hamstring, but came back to look at full strength and shot 12-of-14 from the field for 25 points and nine rebounds in the team’s second-to-last game. Over 24 career games (19 starts) against Los Angeles, Lee has compiled 16.0 PPG (53% FG) and 9.7 RPG. SG Klay Thompson (18.4 PPG, 42% threes) was second in the league with 223 made three-pointers, and he put up 18.8 PPG (47% FG) with 2.0 SPG against the Clippers over four games this season. In 12 playoff games last year, Thompson scored 15.2 PPG (44% FG) while making 42% of his threes.
The Clippers had the league's most prolific offense this season, netting 107.9 PPG, while hitting 47.4% of their shots (3rd in NBA), but only 35.2% threes (22nd in league). The team is scoring even more coming into the playoffs with 111.8 PPG (48.4% FG) over their final five games of the regular season. Their defense was average on the season in terms of points allowed (101.0 PPG, 14th in NBA), but limited opponents to 44.1% FG (5th in league) and an NBA-best 33.2% threes, which is crucial facing such a great long-range shooting team like the Warriors. PG Chris Paul (19.1 PPG, 10.7 APG, 2.5 SPG) had a double-double in each of his past two games, and has averaged 20.9 PPG (48% FG), 9.5 APG, 5.0 RPG and 2.2 SPG over 40 career postseason games. He was tremendous against the Warriors over three games this season too, compiling 28.0 PPG (47% FG), 12.7 APG and 3.7 SPG. PF Blake Griffin (24.1 PPG, 9.5 RPG) finished off the regular season scoring at least 23 points in each of his last six games played, and averaged a double-double (25.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG) with 2.0 SPG in his four contests against Golden State this season. He really struggled in his playoff stint last year against the Grizzlies though, scoring just 13.2 PPG (45% FG) while grabbing only 5.5 RPG in six games. C DeAndre Jordan (10.4 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 2.5 BPG) led the league in shooting this season at 67.6% FG, and did very well against the Warriors this season with 10.3 PPG (64% FG), 15.3 RPG and 3.5 BPG. The team will also count on SG Jamal Crawford (18.6 PPG, 3.2 APG) to contribute more offense than he did last postseason when he scored just 10.8 PPG on 39% FG and 6-of-22 threes (27%).