NBA Game Of The Week: Streaking Warriors, Clippers Face Off
There’s little question which NBA game can’t be missed this week: it’s Golden State, winner of nine straight games and having clinched the top seed in the Western Conference, visiting the Los Angeles Clippers, winners of seven in a row and trying to finish with the No. 2 seed. The Clippers opened as 1.5-point favorites at BetOnline with a huge total of 214 as Golden State leads the NBA in scoring and the Clippers are No. 2.
Warriors Can Coast Now
The question is whether Golden State plays all its key guys because it literally has nothing to play for the rest of the season. The locked up the West’s top seed with a 108-95 win in Milwaukee on Saturday. Steph Curry had 25 points and Klay Thompson added 21 for Golden State, which also set a franchise record with its 60th victory of the season. The Warriors became the 13th NBA team with at least 60 wins in 73 games. Of the previous 12 teams, nine went to the NBA Finals, and all nine won. The Warriors are 14-1 in their past 15 games and lead the NBA in defensive efficiency and opponents’ field-goal percentage, and they’re 4th in opponents’ points per game during that stretch.
Coach Steve Kerr rested Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala vs. the Clippers. But don’t look for coach Kerr to rest players en masse as he did at Denver earlier this month. He said he doesn’t anticipate benching Curry and Thompson for entire games anymore with only one back-to-back set remaining.
“It’s not really that tempting, because it’s a game of rhythm and timing and execution,” Kerr said of simply pulling his starters in the final stretch. “So you counteract that with the threat of injury. I don’t think you can plan with injuries in mind. Injuries are either going to happen or they’re not.
“We could rest guys three or four games, and they might get hurt the next game because they’re not in rhythm. So it’s hard to find the right balance, but that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Kerr believes it’s necessary for his team to continue improving and playing well heading into the postseason. Curry, the NBA MVP favorite, has played 32.8 minutes per game, the lowest amount of all seasons in which he has been healthy. Thompson (32.1 mpg) is playing less than he has in the past two seasons. Andrew Bogut’s 23.7 minutes are a low even in a 10-year career that has been marred at times by injures.
Clippers Eye No. 2 Spot
The Clippers’ hot streak has gotten them to fifth in the West, just 1.5 games behind No. 2 Houston with Memphis and Portland also in the mix. L.A. just completed a 3-0 road trip with a 119-106 win at Boston on Sunday. J.J. Redick scored 27 points, Chris Paul had 21 points and 10 assists. Redick’s shooting during this winning streak for the Clippers has been lights-out. He went 11-for-15 from the field and 5-for-6 from 3-point range in the win over the Celtics. Redick is shooting 61-104 from the field (58.7%) and 24-46 (52.2%) from 3-point range in his last 7 games. Redick shot 73.3% from the field Sunday, the best he’s ever shot in a game in which he’s taken at least 15 shots.
Golden State leads the season series 2-1. The home team has won 10 consecutive regular-season meetings. Golden State has either won or split the season series with the Clippers in each of the last eight years.
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