Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 7:00 PM
The opening Saturday of 2014 NBA Playoff action featured three outright upsets from road underdogs. That means, Monday and Tuesday, three home favorites will be in must-win situations before they switch cities and try to steal back home court advantage for the series. The first of those must-win favorites is the third seeded Los Angeles Clippers, who host Golden State in what’s become a heated rivalry even when not in the playoff spotlight!
Both teams lost key starters to foul trouble this past Saturday. Blake Griffin of the Clippers and Andre Igoudala of the Warriors both only played 20 minutes because the refs wouldn’t let them move without blowing a whistle. We’ll have different refs Monday…which means an entirely different style of game. Will that more physical style favor the hosts? Or, will Griffin be too amped up to play clear-headed ball on both sides of the floor? It’s amazing that we have a game on the schedule so quickly that could shape the Western brackets so dramatically.
The Clippers were supposed to be a threat to go the distance. If they don’t figure out how to guard Golden State’s pick-and-roll, it would be a surprisingly short stay in the 2014 postseason.
This is our first look at Golden State/Clippers here in the NOTEBOOK. We’ll touch on all eight first round matchups out of the gate (having already discussed Memphis/Oklahoma City and Portland/Houston). Let’s run the key indicator stats from the regular season.
Golden State: 105.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #12 in the NBA)
LA Clippers: 109.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #1 in the NBA)
The mainstream media is still under the illusion that Golden State has a great offense but a lousy defense. That described them under prior coaches. This year’s team has taken a few steps back offensively. It’s actually the Clippers who are much better on a per-possession basis. Chris Paul is a master at running an offense. Blake Griffin has added more to his offensive attack this season. If you’re handicapping this series, be aware that it’s the CLIPPERS who were the superior offensive team this season.
Golden State: 99.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #3 in the NBA)
LA Clippers: 102.1 per 100 possessions (ranked #7 in the NBA)
Then be aware that it was Golden State who had the better DEFENSE! New head coach Mark Jackson made this a point of emphasis right away. Adding Igoudala was a big help. Golden State plays great defense, which is hidden by their fast pace. Actually, BOTH of these teams play quality defense in a way that’s hidden by tempo. That and the fact that the East Coast media goes to bed without ever watching them play! You’re a handicapper. You need to know reality.
Golden State: #6
LA Clippers: #7
Two of the seven fastest teams in the NBA. That makes for an intriguing mix of fast paced defensive basketball. There were concerns at the beginning that the absence of Andrew Bogut would prevent Golden State from being competitive. So much for that theory. Golden State has shown they can win on the road. Can they win FOUR games before the loss of Bogus drains too much from their regular rotation?
Against the Spread
Golden State: 41-38-3
LA Clippers: 46-35-1
Those are regular season numbers. If you throw in the playoff game, Golden State nudges past the break-even point, while the Clippers are still well in the black. Oddsmakers underestimated LAC all through the regular season. But, may have given them too much credit at the start of this series. Outside of the first few minutes against slow starting Golden State, the line of LAC -7 was too high for the matchup. Golden state actually led by double digits at one point in the second half.
JIM HURLEY is very likely to have Warriors/Clippers as part of his Monday Night card. He’s also looking at Game Two of Memphis/Oklahoma City, the only other game on the NBA schedule. The final word in NBA and MLB will be up during the day. You can always purchase BEST BETS online with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 this week during normal business hours.
Our series of NBA preview continues through the week on this schedule:
Tuesday: Washington at Chicago Game Two
Wednesday: Dallas at San Antonio Game Two
Thursday: Indiana at Atlanta Game Three
Friday: Toronto at Brooklyn Game Three
Saturday: Miami at Charlotte Game Three
That will have us covering all eight opening round matchups before anyone hits the floor for their third game. Sunday’s are reserved for Sunday Night MLB on ESPN. The following week, we’ll pick out the biggest NBA game of the night for showcase coverage.
Get important handicapping information every day here in the NOTEBOOK. And, get BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!