NBA Western Conference Playoffs Picks: #3 Los Angeles Clippers vs #6 Golden State Warriors

2014 NBA Western Conference Quarterfinals
#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs #6 Golden State Warriors

Best of Seven Series Format – 2-2-1-1-1
Odds to Win Series: Clippers -400 / Warriors +325 (courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbooks)

Game #1, Saturday, April 19, 2014, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Staples Center – Los Angeles, California
Game #1 Opening Line: Los Angeles -7
Current Line: Los Angeles -7
Opening Total:  210
Current Total: 211 1/2
Opening Money Line: Clippers -325 / Warriors +265
Current Money Line: Clippers -325 / Warriors +265

The Clippers and Warriors open the Western Conference quarterfinals Saturday afternoon.
The Clippers and Warriors open the Western Conference quarterfinals Saturday afternoon.

The 57-25 Los Angeles Clippers won the Pacific Division for the second straight year. The Clippers finished 5 games ahead of 51-31 Golden State Warriors in the Division. Both teams made the playoffs and will meet in the Western Conference quarterfinals starting Saturday in Los Angeles. The winner will face either the #2 seed Oklahoma City Thunder or the #7 seed Memphis Grizzlies in the conference semifinals.

Not surprisingly, this is the first ever playoff meeting between the Clippers and Warriors. Neither team has been consistently good since 1984 to put it mildly. The Clippers are making only their sixth playoff appearance since then and the Warriors their 7th. Los Angeles has never made even as far as the conference finals in their history and Golden State hasn’t made the conference finals since 1976. Both of these teams have long been in the sizable shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers for California bragging rights.

If the team’s four regular season meetings are any indication, this should be a very physical and competitive series. These teams don’t like each other much. Each team won both meetings at home. The Clippers won at Staples 126-115 on Halloween and March 12 111-98. The Warriors won in Oakland on Christmas 105-103 and 111-92 on January 30.  Warriors guard Klay Thompson added fuel to the fire this week when he accused Clippers’ forward Blake Griffin of flopping too much.

Golden State is coached by Mark Jackson who could be in danger of losing his job if the Warriors don’t win this series. The Warriors won 3 of their last 4 games to close out the regular season, including two straight. Golden State won at home Wednesday night in regular season finale on the road against the Denver Nuggets 116-112. The game was basically meaningless as the Warriors had locked up the #6 seed already. The starters played limited minutes if at all for Golden State. The Warriors are 41-38-3 ATS this season and the total is  33-47-2 this season.

Golden State is outscoring teams 104-100 this season. The Warriors are #10 in scoring and #10 in points allowed. Golden State is shooting 46.2% from the field and 38% from 3 point range. The Warriors are #9 in field goal percentage and #4 in three point shooting. Golden State makes 75.3% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 43.6% from the field and 34.4% from 3 point range. The Warriors are #4 in field goal defense and #3 in three point defense. Golden State averages 45.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 43.3 per game. The Warriors are #5 in rebounding and #20 in rebounds allowed. Golden State averages 23.2 assists, 15.2 turnovers, 7.7 steals and 5.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 20.2 assists, 14.9 turnovers, 8 steals and 4.2 blocks per game.

Guard Stephen Curry averages 24 points, 8.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. Guard Klay Thompson averages 18.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Forward David Lee averages 18.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. Lee played in the last 3 games of the season after missing the previous 7 games with a hamstring injury. Forward Harrison Barnes averages 9.5 points, 4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Forward Andre Iguodala averages 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Jermaine O’Neal, Jordan Crawford, Andrew Bogut, Marresse Speights and Draymond Green will also get some minutes. Bogut leads the team in rebounds at 10 per game and blocks at 1.8 per game. Bogut is out for this series with a rib injury. O’Neal will replace him in the starting line-up. Center Festus Ezeli is out indefinitely with a knee injury and has missed the entire season.

Los Angeles is coached by Doc Rivers. The Clippers have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games. LA lost at the Portland Trail Blazers 110-104 Wednesday night to close out the regular season. The Clippers had a chance to move up from the #3 seed to the #2 seed had they won that game and Oklahoma City lost to the Detroit Pistons earlier that night. LA didn’t take that chance too seriously as Blake Griffin was suspended, and guards Chris Paul and J.J. Redick didn’t even make the trip to Portland for rest. Still, the Clippers overcame a 23 point third quarter deficit and led in the fourth before running out of gas.  The Clippers are 46-35-1 ATS this season and the total is 44-37-1 this season.

LA is outscoring teams 108-101. The Clippers lead the league in scoring and are #14 in points allowed. Los Angeles is shooting 47.4% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. The Clippers are #3 in field goal percentage and #22 in three point shooting. LA is #26 in free throw shooting at 73% from the field. Opponents are shooting 44.1% from the field and 33.2% from 3 point range. The Clippers lead the league in 3 point defense and are #5 in opponents’ field goal percentage. Los Angeles averages 43 rebounds per game and opponents average 43.7 per game. LA is #25 in rebounds allowed. The Clippers average 24.6 assists, 13.9 turnovers, 8.6 steals and 4.9 blocks per game. Opponents average 23.3 assists, 15.4 turnovers, 7 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

Griffin averages 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Paul averages 19.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 10.7 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. Paul leads the league in assists and steals. Guard Jamal Crawford averages 18.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He missed 5 games with an Achilles’ injury down the stretch but will play in this series. Redick averages 15.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Guard Darren Collison averages 11.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Center DeAndre Jordan averages 10.4 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. Jordan leads the league in rebounding and is third in blocks per game.  Forward Matt Barnes averages 9.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. Danny Granger, Jared Dudley, and Willie Green will also get significant minutes. Granger missed the last 9 games of the season with a hamstring injury but is probable for game #1.

Golden State is 4-0 ATS when the opponent scores 100 points or more in the previous game, overall and against Western Conference teams, 11-1 in conference quarterfinal games, 7-1-1 on two days rest, 5-1 when the opponent allows 100 points or more in the previous game, after a cover, against teams with winning records, in road games, and after scoring 100 points or more. The over is 7-2 in this series recently, including 4-1 in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is 4-0 ATS against Pacific Division teams, 5-1 on two days rest, 18-6 after a straight up loss, 6-2 after allowing 100 points or more, 5-2 in Saturday games and when the opponent allows 100 points or more in the previous game, 7-3 overall, 14-6-1 against Western Conference teams, and 0-5 in Conference quarterfinal games. The home team has covered 6 of the last 7 games in this series.

Paul and Curry are two of the most exciting point guards in the league, and it should be epic to watch them compete in a 7 game series. Golden State had the rebounding edge during the regular season, but that might be negated without Bogut. Despite Golden State’s griping about Griffin’s flopping I don’t think the Warriors have anyone who can stop him from scoring, especially if Lee isn’t completely healthy. I like the Clippers to win game #1 and win the series in six hard fought, physical games.

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