The Los Angeles Clippers (30-26) were one team that didn’t want the All-Star break to come when it did. That’s because they were in the midst of a terrific run, winning seven of their last nine games. They went into the break on a major high as they recorded an impressive 129-119 win over the Celtics in Boston.
Big man DeAndre Jordan was absolutely dominant as he went off for 30 points, 13 rebounds, and four steals. Meanwhile, the forward duo of Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari both had at least 20 points and eight rebounds, and Lou Williams added 19 points off the bench.
The Clippers now have their sights set on the Golden State Warriors (44-14), who entered the break on a sour note as they lost a 123-117 shootout to the Portland Trail Blazers on Valentine’s Day. Kevin Durant scored 50 points for the first time in a Warriors uniform, but the Dubs’ defense couldn’t stop the Blazers backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who combined for 73 points.
That loss snapped an impressive three-game win streak which saw them blow the Mavs, Spurs, and Suns out at home by 18, 17, and 46 points, respectively. The Warriors are now just 4-4 in their last eight games.
Three keys to the game
Stephen Curry – After cooking for basically all of January, the Chef has cooled off significantly in February. He’s averaging just over 20 points per game and his 3-point percentage has also dipped to a mortal 35 percent. However, there’s something about facing LA that brings out the best in him, and the Warriors will need that version of Steph to return in order to cool off the red-hot Clippers.
Clippers forwards – The one-two punch of Gallinari and Harris has been a major reason for the Clippers’ recent resurgence. Gallo has been on fire ever since returning to the lineup, while Harris has been providing the production similar to when he was with the Pistons. They will obviously have their hands full against Durant and Draymond Green, but if they can successfully hold their own, the Clippers should be in decent shape.
Lou Williams – The last time Williams stepped into Oracle, he dropped 50 points on the Warriors to lead the Clippers to a 125-106 win. That version of Lou Will has taken a backseat now that Harris and Gallo have been able to share the scoring load. Still, the Clippers need Williams to provide that scoring punch off the bench to pull off another big road win in Oakland.
Matchup to watch
Danilo Gallinari vs Kevin Durant – Durant has been close to unstoppable against the Clippers. In two games against them this season, he’s averaging 30 points in 30 minutes per game while shooting an absurd 72 percent from the field. Gallinari obviously can’t match those sorts of numbers nor can he keep Durant quiet, but he can at least make Durant work a bit harder on the defensive end.
Clippers projected starting lineup
PG – Austin Rivers | SG – Avery Bradley | SF – Danilo Gallinari | PF – Tobias Harris | C – DeAndre Jordan
Warriors projected starting lineup
PG – Stephen Curry | SG – Klay Thompson | SF – Kevin Durant | PF – Draymond Green | C – Zaza Pachulia
Gallinari has been remarkably consistent fantasy player over the past few games. He’s averaging 21 points, six rebounds, and nearly three 3-pointers per game in his last six contests. Meanwhile, Williams hasn’t been far behind. While he’s not dropping the epic numbers like he was last month, he’s still been delivering rock-solid stats of 22.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.5 3-pointers over his last four games.
As for the Warriors, their superstar duo of Curry and Durant will be the ones to watch. Curry is averaging 38.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.5 steals in two meetings against the Clippers this season. And as mentioned earlier, Durant is dropping a point per minute while shooting over 70 percent from the floor against the Clippers, who have been among the worst at stopping opposing small forwards all season.
While the Clippers have been impressive recently, it's still hard to underestimate the Warriors. The break should have been good for them in terms of recharging their drained batteries. As their last three home games have shown, hardly any team can hang with them when they're anywhere near their best. They should be closer to that level fresh off the break, which is why taking them as 10.5-point home favorites is the way to go.
The Warriors cool off the Clippers as they run away with a comfortable 121-106 win at Oracle.
This game will be broadcast nationally on TNT. Tip-off is at 10:30 pm Eastern.