The Warriors are banged up and winding down anothernon-playoff season. The L.A. Clippers are not only a lock to make the NBApostseason for just the second time in 15 years, theyre thinking abouthome-court advantage in Round 1.A win against the Warriors would further that cause. TheClippers begin play on Saturday in fourth place in the Western Conference,one-and-a-half games ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers seem to be peaking as the postseasonapproaches. Theyve won 10 of their past 12 games overall and eight of theirpast nine at home. Here are some things to watch for during Saturdays gamebetween the Warriors and Clippers at Staples Center:Scrappiness early: The Clippers areplayoff-bound, surging and getting healthier. They have things at stake andtheir talent level dwarfs the Warriors heading into this one.It seems the only way for the Warriors to stay competitiveis to stay competitive in the first six minutes. And without Stephen Curry,David Lee, Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson that seems like a tallorder.Lets see if the Warriors can hang in early.Tylers game: Rookie center Jeremy Tyleris in a very tough spot on Saturday. Hes a young and inconsistent player andnow finds himself without Lee, his more superior frontcourt mate.Not to mention, the Clippers throw one of the most athleticfront lines in the NBA at you with DeAndre Jordan at center and Blake Griffinat power forward. And after them its Reggie Evans, the bruiser.Warriors coach Mark Jackson could keep Tyler as the startingcenter and make Dominic McGuire the starting power forward. Or Jackson couldplay Tyler at power forward in place of the starter, Lee and use himalongside Mickell Gladness or Andris Biedrins.Regardless, Tyler is going to face some real challengesagainst the Clippers.X-factor: Small forward Caron Butler getsplenty of offensive opportunities playing with Paul and Griffin. Hes still asolid player, and when hes playing well, the Clippers are more difficult tobeat.If Dorell Wright can find a way to outplay Butler, it wouldbe one small step in the direction of winning.
OAKLAND -- Arriving at Oakland International Airport roughly two hours before tipoff Wednesday night, Klay Thompson hustled over to Oracle Arena and will be in the starting lineup for the Warriors against the Oklahoma City.
Thompson missed the team’s morning shootaround because he was visiting his gravely ill maternal grandfather in Portland, source told CSNBayArea.com.
Initially listed as missing the game, Thompson reached out to Warriors general manager Bob Myers late Wednesday morning and indicated he might make it back to Oakland in time for the game.
Thompson is the team’s third leading scorer, averaging 21.4 points per game.
His availability is particularly significant, as he’ll be the primary defender on Thunder star Russell Westbrook, who is averaging triple-double numbers this season.
SACRAMENTO -- The NBA game is changing. League records are in jeopardy all over the place, but it’s hard to imagine a bigger statistical shift than that of the 3-point shot. Instituted to start the 1979-80 season, the 3-pointer isn’t just a gimmick, as first thought. It’s the lifeblood of a league that is growing at an incredible pace.
The ability to make the long distance shot used to be a rarity, now it is a prerequisite to enter the league. Even centers like DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol are letting it fly as the game shifts to the perimeter.
The leaderboard is being rewritten and it’s will likely continue to change as more and more players are lining up from behind the arc.
Sacramento Kings executive Peja Stojakovic knows this fact all too well. Out of the league just six years, the Serbian-born sharpshooter has seen his place in the standings diminished almost every season.
“Every decade, every 10-15 years, there is some new, great player that comes in that take the game to a different place we haven’t seen before,” Stojakovic told CSN California earlier this week. “That’s what’s so special about this game.”
When he retired following the 2010-11 season, Stojakovic ranked fourth all-time in made 3-point shots with 1760, trailing only Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Jason Kidd.
Since leaving the game, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, Jamal Crawford, Kyle Korver, Joe Johnson, Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant and Rashard Lewis have all passed him, leaving Stojakovic in 13th place on the list, but only for another game or two.
Golden State Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry is hot on Stojakovic’ tail, trailing the 3-time All-Star by just 11 makes coming into Wednesday night’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Be it Wednesday or sometime late in the week, Curry will almost assuredly surpass the former Kings star.
“Records are meant to be broken,” Stojakovic said. “Steph is definitely a guy, that if he continues to shoot - him and Klay (Thompson), if they continue to stay on the same pace, they can climb all the way to one and two.”
Curry, 28, has led the league four straight seasons in makes, setting new standards multiple times. His 402 triples last season is an NBA record and he holds three of the top four spots all-time for 3-balls in a single season.
Thompson is right behind Curry in most seasons. His 276 makes during 2015-16 is the third most in a single season and he is on pace to hit over 250 shots from deep this year. Through five-plus seasons in the league, Thompson has hit 1182 3-pointers and at age 26, he has plenty more left in him.
“Our league in general has shifted,” Stojakovic said. “It’s more of a guard’s league and the pace is different. A lot of teams are shooting a lot of threes and Golden State - it suits them pretty well with the personnel they have.”
Both Curry and Thompson are a long way from tracking down Allen’s top spot of 2973, although Curry can get there quickly if he continues to drop in 400-plus bombs a season.
Injuries could play a role in where each of these players end up career-wise, but they are well on their way to shattering the record books.
“They are young enough and the way the league is going, I think if they stay healthy, they can really climb up there all the way to the top,” Stojakovic said.