Thursday, October 24 – LA Clippers at Golden State Warriors
What an incredible start for the Clippers.
After routing their Los Angeles rivals a few days earlier in a potential playoff preview, the Clippers faced Steph Curry and his Warriors at their new arena.
Like many other teams in the league, the Clippers began the season with a dramatically different look.
But, unlike teams like the Celtics and the Lakers, the Clippers have immediate chemistry.
No longer just a team of ravenous wild dogs, this wolfpack now has a clear Alpha in Kawhi Leonard, and another in Paul George when he returns.
The lack of George just adds to the impressiveness of the Clipper’s achievements against some of the strongest teams in the NBA.
The Clippers entered Chase Arena to the thundering and bone-chilling roar of Golden State fans, shouting, yelling, confidently affirming their dedication to their team hasn’t shaken since the departure of Durant.
What Warriors fans didn’t realise is that they were about to get their first taste of a new NBA reality: the Golden State Championship era is over.
The Clippers started the game on a 14 – 0 run, thanks partly to Beverley’s ravenous obsession with loose balls, Zubac’s inside presence and Kawhi quietly notching a few points too.
The game continued, and the difference in play almost immediately widened.
While scoring came easily to many of the Clipper’s key players, the Warriors kept relying on Steph Curry for the majority of their scoring, who is going to have to pick up the offensive slack left behind by Kevin Durant and the injured Klay Thompson.
Luckily for Curry, the Warriors snagged another All-Star scorer in the off-season, D’Angelo Russell, but it’ll take time for the two guards to properly gel.
Another reality faced by the Warriors on Thursday is that their defensive depth severely lags as soon as Looney and Green leave the floor.
Looney was destined to be the Warrior’s back-up centre, proving last year he can make a large impact with small minutes.
But without Willie Cauley Stein, who suffered a foot injury prior to Warriors training camp, the Warriors will have to make do with what large pieces they currently have.
For the Clippers, Kawhi was unstoppable, spinning and manoeuvring to get to where he needed to score, but still reserved in his usage, confident in his team’s ability.
The Clippers revelled in their grittiness, feeding off each other’s confidence as the gap between the score continued to grow.
Shamet was doing his best off-ball Curry impersonation, running past a Zubac screen into an open corner three.
Patterson looked revitalised after experiencing an apparently unshakeable slump, which saw him with limited minutes and even more limited results coming off the OKC bench, but following Paul George to the Clippers may be the best decision of his career.
However, no one revelled in it more than Patrick Beverley.
No one deserves to talk trash more than Beverley, having fought for everything his entire life, he plays a pivotal role in the dethroning of the Warriors.
Beverley picked up where he left off after the playoffs, constantly jawing and jeering at the Warriors and their fans, feeding off every reaction.
Like Beverley said during his post-game interview, the Clippers are scary defensively, and that evening they left the Warriors shaking in their boots.
Kerr said the Warriors are experiencing growing pains, Draymond Green said that they “f***ing sucked”, a season ticket-holder screamed from the crowd “Who in the hell are these players?” while another tossed a rogue bagel onto the court.
It’s a confusing and harrowing time for the Golden State Warriors, and I for one couldn’t be more excited.