The way in which the Golden State Warriors beat the LA Clippers last night is what matters.On paper, the result was understandable. The Clips were playing the second night of a back-to-back, while the Warriors had been off since Saturday. In addition, LA just had their 17-game win streak broken, and still looked to be in the midst of that hangover.
But Golden State didn’t just win, they punked them, 115-94.
1. They didn’t give up anything easy (via SB Nation):
Photo: SB Nation
The Clippers create momentum with big dunks better than any team in the NBA except the Heat. Golden State wouldn’t let it happen.
The Warriors used 27 team fouls, holding LA’s inside tandem of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to 3/14 shooting in the process. They also out rebounded them by 15.
The definitive play came when Festus Ezeli grabbed Griffin’s arm to prevent him from going up for a dunk. Griffin flailed in the air, then came down awkwardly. You never want to see someone get hurt on a dunk, but you also have the right to check his fearlessness with a hard foul or two.
2. They swaggered the way the Clippers usually swagger (via r/NBA):
The Clippers rub people the wrong way sometimes by throwing alley-oops in garbage time, prancing around the court after routine plays, and generally being cocky.
In the third quarter, the Warriors stole some of that team-building swagger. When Blake Griffin bricked a three-pointer off the side of the backboard, the Warriors bench hilariously erupted into a strange sort of dance.
3. They played defence
The Clippers only scored 94 points, despite a 30-point fourth quarter. They turned the Warriors over an incredible 20 times, but were unable to do anything with those extra possessions.
So as well as Golden State shot the ball (50% from the field), it was the defence that really won them the game.
A year after having the fourth-worst defence in the league, Golden State is now 9th in the league (based of points per 100 possessions). Last night they held the Clips to 36% shooting and turned them over 14 times.
It’s still way, way too early to say the Warriors are “legit.” But this is a meaningful win for them because the substance of the game was just as good as the result. They’re now 15-5 in their last 20 games.
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