The Golden State Warriors are facing a much tougher opponent than they were last year. The Denver Nuggets, unlike the Los Angeles Clippers, didn’t have any superstars that were the best in their division in the NBA.
Things are different, now. With Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Clippers CAN boast arguably two of the best five players in the NBA today. Fortunately for the Warriors, they have the firepower to match the Clippers, but haven’t seemed to do so yet.
Speaking of Karl Malone, Blake Griffin (32 points) is the first player with 30+ in back-to-back playoff games vs. GSW since Malone in 1989
— GSWStats (@gswstats) April 25, 2014
Because of isolation defense, Griffin is having a great time at that post, and he is getting almost any shot that he wants. When he isn’t attacking the basket in the post, he’s shooting the jump-shot and it’s falling for him. So, how do you stop a do-it-all power forward like Griffin?
One thing the Warriors could do is double team him, hard. When I say “hard”, I mean that if the Dubs are going to double team, they have to commit to it rather than doing a slapdash job. If they’re able to smother him, he won’t have a clear pass and it could force a turnover. If he does manage to pass the ball, the Warrior defenders are good enough to rotate. A Matt Barnes 3-pointer would be preferable to a Griffin post up.
If they are able to take Griffin out that way, then he won’t be able to help the Clippers by scoring 30+ points, and the Warriors just may manage to do enough on the offensive end to win the game. Griffin is a huge part of the Clippers’ offense, and if he can’t score on every post-up that he has, the Warriors just may get a break.
If double-teaming him doesn’t work, there is another option. In the regular season, Mark Jackson put Andrew Bogut on Griffin. Although he did have a couple of 30-point games, Bogut was also able to limit him to a couple 20-point games. Since Bogut is no longer a factor, however, the Warriors could give Hilton Armstrong a huge break. He has size, athleticism, and is young enough to stay with Griffin.
If Armstrong, or Festus Ezeli for that matter, can body up Griffin and man-handle him, Griffin will get frustrated and do all that he can to score, leading to maybe an offensive foul. Armstrong is likely strong enough to keep Griffin where he is in the post. Additionally, on the offensive end, Armstrong is the type of player that goes after every single rebound. If the Warriors can tire Griffin out, then they may be able to catch another break.
Other superstars on the Clipper team such as Chris Paul and J.J Redick are hurting the Warriors, of course, but Griffin is the main player that is causing some severe damage. If the Warriors can get him under control, they may just be able to catchup in the series and take it.