Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Postgame Grades and Analysis

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Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Postgame Grades and Analysis
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Game 1 of the first-round series between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers delivered, as the Warriors won what turned into a battle by a final score of NBA 109-105.

Thanks in large part to solid team defense that held the Clippers to 42 percent shooting, the Warriors were able to overcome tough shooting games from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Big men David Lee and Jermaine O'Neal both stepped up and scored in double figures as the perimeter attack stalled against the defense of Chris Paul, Darren Collison and others.

On the other end, Paul did his best to keep the Clippers in the game, but ultimately came up short without his primary target Blake Griffin, who sat most of the game in foul trouble.

The aforementioned Paul and Lee had the best individual games, but obviously weren't alone. Several others contributed to the win for the Warriors, and to a solid effort for the Clippers.

 

Key Player Grades

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Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, Point Guard

With his favorite target riding the bench for extended minutes thanks to foul trouble, Paul had to take over as a scorer for long stretches of this game. He did a solid, though not spectacular job, scoring 28 points on 10-of-23 shooting.

The reason for his being at least slowed down was the perimeter defense of Thompson. Paul struggled dealing with his length, and at times looked more concerned with selling minimal contact to the refs as a foul. When they didn't bite, Paul would either miss a bad shot or cough the ball up. He finished the game with six turnovers.

Paul is surely hoping that Griffin isn't in foul trouble next game. He did finish with eight assists but could have had even more had he been able to play more minutes with the team's leading scorer.

Grade: B+

 

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers, Power Forward

Griffin's foul trouble had an enormous impact on the game. His presence around the rim forces defenses to collapse around the paint more often and relieves pressure around the perimeter.

The difference was painfully evident:

He finished the game with just 19 minutes, scoring 16 points in the limited time he played. Sure, one or two of the calls might've been head-scratchers, but he needs to do a better job of avoiding situations that inevitably lead to contact, as well as the temptation to go for pump fakes.

Grade: C+

 

DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers, Center

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Jordan is a dominant force as a rebounder and rim protector. Saturday, he finished with 14 boards and five blocks. But his struggles on the other end made the wrong kind of difference for the Clippers.

He did a good job finishing at the rim, as he always does. But he also had a game-high seven turnovers and went just 3-of-8 from the free-throw line. All but the last time Golden State fouled him—when he hit two clutch freebies—you could pretty much chalk it up as a stop for the Warriors.

Still, his impact on the other two-thirds of the game outweigh his shortcomings on offense, and the Clippers really don't have a reliable option behind him.

Grade: B

 

J.J. Redick, Los Angeles Clippers, Shooting Guard

With Griffin spending so much time on the bench, someone had to step up and provide some scoring in his absence. Redick did so brilliantly. He finished with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 from three-point range.

As he's always done throughout his career, Redick moved extremely well without the ball, reading perfectly whether his defender was going over or under screens, and then pinning him behind it.

He also spent some time defending Stephen Curry, contributing to a team effort that kept Golden State's star in check.

Grade: A

 

Matt Barnes, Los Angeles Clippers, Small Forward

Matt Barnes didn't do a ton to impact the game on either end of the floor. He shot 0-of-3 from the field for two points in 23 minutes. And though his defense wasn't bad, he also didn't really do anything that stood out.

L.A. will need at least a game or two from Barnes in which he makes a few big plays to win this series. In a series that's so closely matched, he could be an X-factor.

Grade: D

 

Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers, Shooting Guard

Jamal Crawford provided some early fireworks with a halfcourt buzzer beater in the first half:

But other than that play, Crawford struggled mightily. He finished the game with nine points on 2-of-11 shooting and posted a team worst plus-minus of minus-15.

The Clippers need someone who can counter the explosive backcourt scoring of the Splash Brothers, and Crawford is capable of being that guy. He just wasn't Saturday.

Grade: D

 

Bench, Los Angeles Clippers

With the exception of Glen Davis, the Clippers bench was terrible. Big Baby went 3-of-4 from the field for six points. Everyone else went 5-of-26 for 20.

With the foul trouble faced by Griffin, L.A. could've used more of a spark from the second unit, something it failed to provide.

Grade: D

 

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, Point Guard

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The Mario of Golden State's Splash Brothers struggled Saturday against the intense ball pressure of Paul and Darren Collison, shooting 6-of-16 from the field and finishing with 14 points. He also turned the ball over seven times, tying Jordan for the most in the game.

To his credit, Curry never forced the issue while he was struggling, often deferring instead to Thompson and Lee. 

Defensively, Golden State tried to "hide" Curry on Redick. The effect of that decision did anything but hide that matchup, as Redick went off.

He'll need to come back with more focus on taking care of the ball and playing tough D for Game 2 of this series.

Grade: C

 

Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors, Shooting Guard

He struggled from the field, shooting 7-of-20 for 22 points, but Thompson's defense on Paul for certain stretches helped keep Golden State in the game.

Yes, Paul went for a game-high 28 points, but he took several bad shots and turned the ball over more than he would've liked.

And while Thompson missed a lot of shots, he was his typically reliable self from beyond the three-point line. He went 4-of-7 from downtown and made the Clippers pay when they lost him on rotations.

Grade: B+

 

David Lee, Golden State Warriors, Power Forward

The Warriors best player Saturday was undoubtedly Lee. His basic box score stats of 13 rebounds and 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting tell a big part of that story. But perhaps most important was his ability to draw fouls on Griffin and seemingly get inside the head of the Clippers' big man.

As the two were chirping at each other in the second half, Lee took it upon himself to neutralize the threat of L.A.'s leading scorer by doing his part to foul him out of the game.

He also broke out as a scorer when Golden State needed him, often going up with one hand and then readjusting to finish with the other as Jordan came over to try to block his shot.

Grade: A+

 

Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors, Small Forward

The Clippers weren't the only ones with foul trouble Saturday. Golden State had a critical starter foul out as well, as Iguodala played just 20 minutes before picking up his sixth.

During his time on the floor, Iguodala wasn't able to get into much of a rhythm and for that reason failed to make an impact. He finished with eight points on 3-of-6 shooting.

He'll certainly need to spend more time on the floor going forward if the Warriors want to win this series. His leadership and ability on defense will be critical in slowing down the high-powered offense of the Clippers.

Grade: C-

 

Jermaine O'Neal, Golden State Warriors, Center

After playing just four minutes in the first half, O'Neal came back after the break with a vengeance, throwing down a couple of monster two-handed dunks in the third quarter that helped sway momentum to the Warriors.

He finished the game with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and helped negate the loss of Andrew Bogut—at least on offense.

He could probably make more of an impact on the other end, but that might be nitpicky. He was solid within the overall scheme that helped slow down the Clippers.

Grade: B

 

Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, Small Forward

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Last season, Barnes played extremely well in the playoffs when Lee went down with an injury. He started off his 2014 playoff run in similar fashion.

With Iguodala, Lee and O'Neal all in foul trouble at various times, Barnes played 24 minutes off the bench and went 3-of-6 from three-point range. One of his threes came with fewer than two minutes left on the clock and provided the Warriors with some much-needed breathing room.

He also did a good job on the boards. His eight rebounds were second only to Lee among Warriors.

Grade: A

 

Bench, Golden State Warriors

The rest of Golden State's bench went 6-of-15 for 18 points. Draymond Green led that group with seven, but it was his defense and rebounding that made him a factor.

He collected seven boards and two blocks, one of which was a great chasedown that many players would've given up on.

The versatility of both Barnes and Green was on display when they were on the floor. And if they continue to be this effective, the Clippers could be in for a very tough series.

Grade: C

 

What's Next?

The Clippers will need to do a much better job with interior defense, as Lee and O'Neal killed them in this first meeting.

As for the Warriors, they may not need to make much of an adjustment. Their game plan seemed to work in neutralizing Griffin. Now, they just need Thompson and Curry to knock down a few more shots.

Game 2 tips off Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET. The Clippers will host again as they look to even the series at 1-1.

 

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.

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