Fast Forward: Warriors visit Clippers expecting physical battle

Fast Forward: Warriors visit Clippers expecting physical battle
March 12, 2014, 7:15 am
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The Warriors and Clippers are hot, each winning eight of their last 10 games. (USATSI)

KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Bait Blake. Griffin has a habit of flopping and getting tangled with defenders, and it sometimes takes him out of his game.

2. Hammer the boards. The Clippers thrive off fast breaks that begin with Griffin or Jordan grabbing a rebound and end with one of them slamming a lob.

3. Contain CP3. Paul may be the game's best maestro, so it's imperative to keep him from controlling the action.

Programming note: Warriors-Clippers coverage tips off tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territory restrictions apply)

The Warriors are in Week 4 of their solemn vow to approach every game as if it were a playoff game. But that's always their mentality when confronting their next opponent.

The Warriors and Clippers have a tempestuous relationship, and there are reasons to believe the mutual animosity will be apparent when they meet Wednesday night at Staples Center.

"We don’t like them, they don't like us, so it's going to be a battle," Warriors center Andrew Bogut said. "The last two games, the last three games, have been real physical on both ends. That's what you want to see as a fan. You don't want to see anybody get hurt, but there's going to be a lot of banging around inside the paint and a lot of physicality.

"We know for us to have a chance to win, we have to slow their transition game. So that's going to be a huge key for us."

That really distills the Warriors' goal to its essence. Both teams are hot, having won eight of their last 10. In winning their last eight, the Clippers are lighting up scoreboards, averaging 115.5 points per game during that stretch. Meanwhile, the Warriors have made a habit of stifling opponents, allowing an average of 96.5 points per game.

Only one of the Warriors' last 21 opponents cracked and 115-point mark.

"We're playing against a red-hot team again, with a lot of talent," coach Mark Jackson said. "And we look forward to the challenge, as far as how we're playing and how they're playing. It's going to be a tough basketball game."

The mission for the Warriors (41-24) is obvious. They will try to derail Los Angeles point guard Chris Paul and big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the primary characters in the Clippers' Lob City Express.

Power forward David Lee gets to spend most of his time trying to contain Griffin.

"It's going to be a team effort," Lee said, noting that Griffin has improved his all-around game. "We'll have multiple guys on him. It's going to take team defense, just like we've approached it with all the really good players in our league."

The Clippers (45-20) will try to expand their four-game lead in the Pacific Division. The Warriors are making a feverish run to catch up, in hopes of securing homecourt advantage in the first round of the postseason.

[RELATED: NBA standings]

Let the offensive juggernaut clash with the defensive machine. May emotions run high but not too hot. And know that one team has to cool, at least for one night.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Lee vs. Griffin. Lee tends to gear up for familiar foes, none more so than the high-flying Clipper. Lee has to match his boundless energy. The Warriors should be pleased if these two finish with comparable stats.

Stephen Curry vs. Paul. Though Klay Thompson will be the primary defender on CP3, this game most likely will follow the path of the two point guards. In the last L.A. meeting, Curry was fantastic but committed too many turnovers. Paul was even better.

Bogut vs. Jordan. Neither typically plays a big role on offense, but both anchor the defense. Both are fierce protectors of the rim. Both are terrific rebounders; Jordan is tops in the league. Bogut might try to get the jump-happy Jordan into foul trouble.

INJURY REPORT: For the Warriors, C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) is out.

For the Clippers, G Jared Dudley (back spasms) is a game-time decision. G Jamal Crawford (strained left calf) is day to day. G J. J. Redick (bulging disk) is out.

LAST 10: Warriors 8-2, Clippers 8-2.

SERIES HISTORY: The Warriors have won two of the first three meetings this season, both in Oakland. The Warriors have not lost a season series to the Clippers since 2005-06.

 

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