Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (8)
The Los Angeles Clippers were somehow able to win enough games to make it into the playoffs, even after trading away arguably their best player, but now they have the challenge all of the lower-seeded teams were trying to avoid, a first-round matchup with the Golden State Warriors. While the Clippers were trying to do everything they could on the last day of the season to fight for playoff positioning, the Warriors were just trying to find out who they’d have to make travel arrangements for.
The Warriors have shown themselves to be vulnerable at times this season, but a team without a superstar will need a whole lot to go right to make for a competitive first-round series.
The Clippers went 1-3 against the Warriors in the regular season series, with their lone win coming way back in November as the Clippers needed overtime to win at home 121-116, but they won’t have Tobias Harris’ services for this series like they had during that game.
Series TV Schedule
Game 1: Sat, April 13 LA at Golden State, 8 ET, ABC
Game 2: Mon, April 15 LA at Golden State, 10:30 ET, TNT
Game 3: Thu, April 18 Golden State at LA, 10:30 ET, TNT
Game 4: Sun, April 21 Golden State at LA, 3:30 ET, ABC
Games 5-7 TBD if necessary
Golden State Warriors Starting Lineup
Los Angeles Clippers Starting Lineup
Key Player Matchups
PG: Stephen Curry vs. Patrick Beverley
Edge Warriors. Beverley is one of the better defenders in the league and his goal will be to try to make life hard for Curry, but over a seven-game series, I can’t see Curry being stopped. The Warriors are smart enough to get him the ball in the right places and run screens for him that will make him a big factor.
SG – Klay Thompson vs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Edge Warriors. Thompson is a two-way player who, like, Curry, is capable of getting hot quick. Gilgeous-Alexander has had a nice rookie season, but his first exposure to NBA playoff basketball coming against Thompson and the Warriors is like baptism by fire.
SF – Kevin Durant vs. Landry Shamet
Edge Warriors. Like Gilgeous-Alexander, Shamet has also had a great rookie campaign, but Durant is a tough draw. Not only is there a huge size disparity, but the talent disparity is even greater. Look for the Clippers to hit the bench early and throw several different looks at Durant.
PF – Draymond Green vs. Danilo Gallinari
Edge Clippers. Aside from the bench, Danilo Gallinari has been one of the biggest reasons why the Clippers were able to stay afloat after the Tobias Harris trade. Gallinari can score and he’ll be able to draw Draymond away from the post where he can knock in perimeter jumpers or try to use his speed. Green is a solid player in his own right, but he’s experienced a bit of a decline this year.
C – DeMarcus Cousins vs. Ivica Zubac
Edge Warriors. I was a fan of the trade netting the Clippers Zubac, but there are tiers in this league and at center, DeMarcus Cousins is on a whole different tier than Zubac. He can spread the floor and draw Zubac out of the paint or try to muscle him up inside. Look for Doc Rivers to turn to Montrezl Harrell in long stretches against Cousins as well.
Coach: Steve Kerr vs. Doc Rivers
Edge Even. Regardless of things like records and rings, there is no doubting that Steve Kerr and Doc Rivers are two of the greatest active coaches in the NBA. Seeing how each coach will adjust their gameplans between games should be interesting.
Bench: Edge Clippers. The Warriors have some depth, but any bench that boasts Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell is hard to top. On top of that, they can also turn to Garrett Temple, JaMychal Green and Wilson Chandler.
Andre Iguodala – Really the biggest X-factor for the Warriors is to play like they are capable of. Draymond Green contributing regularly on offense has to be up there, but if Iguodala is able to have a good defensive series and possible lock down someone like Gallinari, it’s going to be a quick series.
Second unit – The Clippers will desperately need Lou Williams and Harrell to play like they have all season long to have a shot at even stealing a game. Shamet finidng a way to sustain his shooting throughout the series would also be a positive.
Warriors in four. I’m a big fan of the Clippers putting up such a big fight that they are even in the playoffs after trading away their most talented player, and I can see Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell coming up big alongside Gallinari, but the talent disparity is obvious, and the Warriors locomotive is coming full steam ahead.
For more predictions on this and every series, visit our 2019 NBA Playoff Prediction Roundup.
Odds & Line Movement Links: Vegas Odds (All NBA Games Today)