In the David vs. Goliath series in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors will take on the Los Angeles Clippers as the one and eight seed matchup.
Golden State will be looking to three-peat as NBA champions, while Los Angeles is back in the playoffs after missing it last season.
In the season series between the two, L.A. did manage to steal a win in the first meeting. Can the Clippers give the Warriors problems, or will Golden State steamroll their way to the second round?
Golden State Warriors
Another regular season has gone by, and the Warriors yet again find themselves as the favorites to win the NBA Finals. At 57 wins, Golden State has the best record in the West, as well as the best starting five in the league.
The reigning back-to-back champs got even better last season when they signed center DeMarcus Cousins. After returning from injury in January, he has added 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds to the Warriors stacked core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.
Golden State’s offense is unsurprisingly the best in the NBA. Durant leads the team in scoring with 26 points on 52 percent shooting. With talent at every position, and even off the bench, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where the Clippers stop them completely.
With Durant, Cousins and Thompson all free agents this offseason, Golden State has an opportunity to capture another title before the team potentially splits up.
Los Angeles Clippers
Many likely did not expect the Clippers to outplay the LeBron-led Lakers this season. After moving Tobias Harris at the deadline, the team still succeeded, securing the final spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.
L.A. is led in scoring by Lou Williams’ 20 points and 5.4 assists off the bench. It’s hard to see anyone else winning this year’s Sixth Man Award.
In addition to Danilo Gallinari’s 19.8 points and 6.1 rebounds, the Clippers have multiple young players that have made an impact this season.
Big man Montrezl Harrell makes has played well off the bench with 16.6 points and 6.5 rebounds, along with rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 10.8 points per game in his starting role.
While the Clippers had a good season without having big names, they are simply outmatched by the Warriors. L.A. ranks ninth offensively, but ranks 19th on defense. Patrick Beverly may give Curry or Thompson some trouble as a lockdown defender, but the Warriors simply have too many options.
The Clippers had a solid season at 48 wins and managed to make the playoffs, but the Warriors are by far more talented at every position and will win this series easily. The most entertaining aspect of the matchup may be Draymond Green and Beverly’s inevitable trash talk.
Despite the impending loss, the Clippers are in a great position heading into the offseason. With plenty of cap, the Clippers will be in the running to sign some big names. Kawhi Leonard and potentially even Kevin Durant could look at signing with the L.A. team that is managed better than their cross-town counterpart.
The Warriors will finish the first round early, and get prepared for their next opponent: the winner of the Rockets-Jazz series.
Golden State in 4
Featured image credited to Getty Images.
Stats credited to basketball-reference.com.