NBA Picks 3/15 – Golden State Warriors @ LA Clippers
by Thomas Quaynor – NBA analyst for Wannamakeabet.com
The Golden State Warriors (36-33) visit the Los Angeles Clippers (36-33) tonight on ESPN. The Clippers are a 2.5-point favorite and the total is 236. Tonight, will be the fourth and final matchup between these teams this season, Golden State won two of the previous three meetings, beating the Clippers twice at home (124-107 on November 23rd and 115-91 on March 3rd) and losing 134-124 in Los Angeles on February 14th. Both teams are currently tied for 5th/6th in the Western Conference standings, and are one game behind the Phoenix Suns for 4th, so tonight is an important game as the 4th place finisher gets home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
HOW DID BOTH TEAMS GET HERE?
Golden State and the L.A. Clippers began the year with championship aspirations, but both find themselves barely above .500 and fighting to stay out of the play-in portion of the NBA playoffs. After missing the playoffs for two straight seasons because of injuries, the Golden State Warriors came back with a vengeance last season and won the NBA championship in six games over the Boston Celtics.
This season got off to an ominous start in the preseason when video leaked of Draymond Green punching Jordan Poole in the face during an October practice. Golden State started the year 3-7 and lost their first 9 road games, the road woes have continued all season for Golden State as they are a putrid 7-26 away from The Bay. That 7-26 road mark puts them in the same company as Houston (6-28), San Antonio (6-27) and Detroit (7-27), the three worst teams in the NBA by far.
Injuries to Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins (who may not return this season due to a personal matter) has made the entire season an uphill battle for Golden State. Despite missing 26 games with injuries, Steph Curry still remains an elite player averaging 29.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and assists and 1 steal per game. Klay Thompson has also regained his pre-ACL injury form putting up 22.3ppg, 4.3rebs and shooting 41.1 percent from three. Free agent signee Donte DiVincenzo has done an outstanding job filling in for Andrew Wiggins, he’s averaged 10.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 13 games as a starter this year.
When the Los Angeles Clippers signed both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on July 24th, 2019, the expectations were deep playoff runs and championships. In year four of this pairing, we’ve seen none of that and they currently sit at 36-33. Injuries to both Paul George and Kawhi, load management and a 2020 playoff “bubble” choke job against the Denver Nuggets has made this pairing a big disappointment up to this point. Maybe Paul George and Kawhi Leonard can stay healthy down this final stretch of regular season games and they can finally make that championship run that was expected when they signed.
When Kawhi and Paul George have played, they’ve performed at an All-NBA level, Paul George leads team in scoring by the smallest of margins averaging 23.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals in 52 games. Kawhi contributes 23.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.4 steals in 41 games. Russell Westbrook has averaged 13.3 points and 7.5 assists in the 8 games he’s played for the Clippers. The Clippers lost the first five games with Westbrook and questions arose about his style of play, but they’ve since won three in a row as they’ve reduced his role and given more minutes to Eric Gordon and Terance Mann.
Golden State has been terrible on the road and the Clippers have won three in a row with a somewhat reigned in Russell Westbrook…Take the Clippers and Lay the 2.5!
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