Clippers in a familiar position going into Game 4 vs. Warriors
One of the sweetest parts of the Los Angeles Clippers’ upstart season has been measuring the gap between outside expectations and their own.
Oddsmakers picked the Clippers to win 35 games in the preseason. They won 48.
In a league in which teams’ ability to contend for the title directly correlates with how many allNBA players they have, the Clippers became only the fourth team in NBA history to win at least 45 games without a current or former All-Star on their roster.
Few, if any, outsiders projected the Clippers to make the postseason. Players and coaches say they believed they belonged since September.
Circumstances feel similar entering Sunday’s Game 4 of their firstround playoff series against Golden State.
Behind a 38-point performance from Kevin Durant, the top-seeded Warriors reasserted control with a 27-point victory in Game 3 to grab a 2-1 series lead. The performance redeemed Golden State following its historic collapse in Game 2.
The Clippers left frustrated – yet not resigned to being brushed aside by the defending champions.
“They did what any good team would do, respond to kind of getting embarrassed, I guess,” guard Landry Shamet said. “That’s how we would look at it. That’s how we feel right now, feel embarrassed. Hopefully we can come out Game 4 with a little better intensity and mindset.” Bogut a factor – Warriors center Andrew Bogut said, “I feel like sometimes we think we’re more talented than most teams and we’re just going to turn it on when we have to. That’s a dangerous game to play, especially in the playoffs. We realized that in Game 2 and I think we fixed that.”
Coach Steve Kerr called Bogut, who rejoined the Warriors for a second stint in March, a “godsend” for his rim protection, which hindered Ivica Zubac’s production in Game 3 and contributed to the Clippers’ array of missed opportunities.
After the Clippers faced Bogut and his Australian league team in an exhibition in September, coach Doc Rivers told team president Lawrence Frank that Bogut belonged back in the NBA.
Los Angeles Clippers’ Lou Williams, left, shoots as Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant, second from left, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala defend in Game 3 in Los Angeles on Thursday. Durant scored 38 points in the Warriors’ 132-105 win.