In what could be the most exciting first-round series of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers will take on the Golden State Warriors. As the No.3 seed, L.A. will host Game One, which is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
It marks the fifth time that the two teams will faced each other this season. In their head-to-head matchups, each team picked up two victories. Most recently, the Clippers visited Golden State and left with a 111-98 victory.
The trash talking for the series started a few days before the division rivals were set to square off. Warriors guard Klay Thomas remarked on Blake Griffin’s style of play, and accused him of flopping.
"He flairs his arm around so you know you might catch a random elbow or something that doesn't you know rub off too well on guys," Thompson told 95.7 The Game radio in San Francisco. "He's kind of like a bull in a china shop, kind of out of control sometimes. And then you do just see him flop sometimes like how can a guy that big and strong flop that much.
The Clippers big man refused to trade barbs with Thompson. Griffin enters the postseason as one of the favorites to finish No.3 in the MVP voting, as Kevin Durant and LeBron James battle for the award. He had his best regular season as a pro, registering 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Most importantly, he helped Los Angeles win a franchise-record 57 games, even though Chris Paul was forced to miss 20 contests.
The Warriors’ young star, though, is also in the midst of his best year. He set career-highs, scoring 24 points and dishing out 8.5 assists per game, while maintaining a 47.1 field-goal percentage.
Most Las Vegas casinos have the Clippers favored by seven points. In the regular season, Los Angeles was one of the best teams at covering the point spread. They went 46-35-1 against the betting line. The Warriors finished the year at 42-38-2 against the spread.
At 211.5 points, the over/under is the second-highest for any Game One of the first round. The Clippers and Warriors are two of the best offenses in the league. L.A. ranks first in offensive efficiency, scoring 109.4 points per possession. Golden State ranks 12th in that department, but has the ability to have scoring outbursts. They’re tied for second with 9.4 three-pointers made per contest, and registered more than 120 points on three different occasions in April.
This won’t be any easy game for the Warriors to pull off the upset. The Clippers are one of the favorites in the West, and have been near impossible to beat at home, registering a 34-7 record at Staples Center. Without an injured Andrew Bogut, it will be difficult for Golden State to contain Griffin. Paul has been especially good against the Warriors, and that could lead to a big Game One victory for the No.3 seed.
Los Angeles 110, Golden State 99