LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (59-26)
at GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (52-33)
NBA Playoffs - Western Conference First Round
Game 4 - Los Angeles leads series 2-1
Tip-off: Sunday, 3:35 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -2.5, Total: 209.5
The Clippers look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead on Sunday when they visit the Warriors in Game 4 of their first-round series.
When Los Angeles was up by18 points in Game 3, it started to look just like the second game where it won a 40-point blowout, but Golden State finally started making some plays in the fourth quarter, storming back into the game just to miss a shot at the buzzer down by two points. Los Angeles ended up winning the game by a score of 98-96, narrowly failing to cover the 2.5-point spread in a game where it made 46.5% FG. The Warriors, who have won most of their games this season from behind the arc, were just 6-for-31 (19%) from three-point range and also struggled from the free-throw line, going 16-for-24 (67%) as a team. They did distribute the ball well though, with six different players having 10+ points in the contest. The win for L.A. brought its road record on the season to 24-18 SU (25-16-1 ATS). For Golden State, it now owns a 27-15 SU record when playing in front of its fans, but raised its ATS record to 20-21-1 overall on the season. The Clippers winning on Thursday was a big victory as a road team, since prior to the postseason, the home team in this matchup had won seven straight games SU (6-1 ATS), but now each club has grabbed a road victory early on in this series. Going back to the start of the 2011-12 campaign, the Warriors have a record of 8-7 SU (9-6 ATS) when facing Los Angeles, while the Over is 10-5. The Clips benefit from the fact that underdogs coming off a cover where the team lost the game straight up as an underdog, in a game involving two good teams (60% to 75% win pct.), are just 15-50 ATS (23%) since 1996, Golden State falls into the category of home teams going 46-19 ATS (71%) since 1996 when coming off a home loss, in a game involving two good teams (60% to 75% win pct.) and a line of +3 to -3. C Andrew Bogut (ribs) will continue to miss time for the Warriors, and is the only significant injury for either team.
After dominating on the offensive side of the ball all season long, the Clippers showed that they still had it with 138 points in Game 2, but scored just 98 points while letting their defense do the work in the Game 3 victory. PF Blake Griffin (27.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG in playoffs) did not start out the series well, fouling out in 19 minutes in the first game, but followed that up with a 35-point performance in Game 2 and 32 points on Thursday. He hit plenty of clutch shots down the stretch as well, but was just 2-for-9 from the charity stripe. If he can continue to put forth dominating games like this, it will be hard to see Golden State pulling out any more victories. PG Chris Paul (18.3 PPG, 9.3 APG, 3.7 SPG in playoffs) missed 1-of-2 free throws late in the game, which would have put L.A. up by three, but it ended up not making a difference, as he still had a double-double (15 points, 10 assists) for the second consecutive game. Paul has now averaged 20.7 PPG (48% FG), 9.5 APG and 2.3 SPG over his 43 career postseason contests. C DeAndre Jordan (12.0 PPG, 15.0 RPG, 5.0 BPG in playoffs) has been very consistent so far in this series with five blocks in each game, while putting up his best effort in other categories (14 points, 22 rebounds) in the close victory Thursday night. His great play against Golden State comes as no surprise, as he scored 10.3 PPG (64% FG) to go along with 15.3 RPG and 3.5 BPG over four games during the regular season.
The Warriors made 38% of their threes this season (4th in league), but are hitting these shots at a paltry 27% clip so far in the playoffs, and poor shooting was a big part of the reason that they lost the game on Thursday night. Another big problem they are having so far is turnovers as they have committed 22 turnovers per game so far in the postseason, which is the most among the 16 playoff teams. PG Stephen Curry (18.0 PPG, 10.0 APG, 2.0 SPG in playoffs) has not been able to put a full game together at his usual level, but was a great distributor on Thursday, getting 15 assists while going only 5-for-12 from the field. He needs to attack more for the team to have any chance, and he has done well against the Clippers in the past, averaging 19.1 PPG (48% FG) and 6.4 APG while shooting an incredible 50% from long range in 19 career games in the matchup. SG Klay Thompson (18.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG in playoffs) hit just 2-of-11 shots from behind the arc in Game 3, but still managed 26 points and is leading the team in scoring so far in the playoffs. He is doing better this year than last postseason though, as he averaged 15.2 PPG (44% FG) in 41 MPG then and is playing less time this year (34.0 MPG), but scoring more due to his ability to get to the free-throw line. PF David Lee (14.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG in playoffs) missed some time at the end of the season with a hurt hamstring and has not looked to be his usual self over the past two games. He had just 11 points and four rebounds in the big 40-point loss in Game 2, and put up a below-average effort in Thursday’s loss as well with only 12 points and nine boards.