3) Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6) Golden State Warriors (2-2)
I like how people are acting like "Blake Griffin vs. Klay Thompson" is a story.
The Warriors (Thompson, Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O'Neal, specifically) have beef with Griffin.
The Grizzlies, with Z-Bo, have beef with Griffin.
The Suns have beef with Griffin.
Lakers? Thunder? Nuggets? Beef. Beef. Beef.
You know the parable about the guy who always complains about having jerks for roommates? If you have one, hey bud, tough break. If you have two, maybe it's bad luck. Three, four, five jerk roommates? Well guess what, you're the jerk.
Amazingly a league of highly competitive, humongous, testosterone-spilling, famous millionaires with huge egos aren't keen about being shoved and elbowed in the face whilst being dunked on on national television and then being whistled for fouls on the end because the hulking super freak with trampolines in his sneakers would rather flop than challenge shots. Who knew?
The refs aren't in love with the flops and being cussed out, shown up and glared at after every no call, so, being human, they're more liable to let a few elbows and shoves against Griffin slide now and again.
I think what I'm trying to say is I'm all for any scenario where Griffin and Russell Westbrook collide into one another at a high rate of speed, and the odds seem to favor it happening in a couple of weeks, particularly with Bogut suffering an ill-timed (as if there was ever a good time for such a thing) fractured rib. The Warriors probably weren't going to knock off the Clippers anyway, especially now that we don't have Vinny Del Negro patrolling the sidelines any longer, but now it's almost a formality, unless Stephen Curry quickly transforms from "All-Star point-guard," into, hell, I don't know, basketball's version of Batman or something. Analogies aren't my thing.
Much and more has been made of Warriors coach Mark Jackson's befuddling lineup construction and hockey-esque substitution patterns, but the truth is you can only try to put so much lipstick on a pig before the fellas in line at the kissing booth figure out your scam. Aside from Curry, Thompson (on the occasions that Kawhi Leonard feels merciful enough to release back into the wild), Bogut, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Draymond Green, the Warriors are sorely lacking in useful commodities, and Lee is battling injuries himself and Iguodala's been in and out of the lineup all year.
Harrison Barnes? Jordan Crawford? Steve Blake? Jermaine O'Neal? Marreesse Speights? Blarg and double blarg. Thompson's the closest thing they have to a two-way player, which is just precious.Jackson may not be a top tactician and his non-stop preaching (like literally, preaching) does grate on those of us partial to the First Amendment, but let's stop pretending he's been dealt a pair of aces when really it's more like J-10 suited. It's nice, you can do a lot of damage with it, but not a hand to push all your chips in with pre-flop.
Speaking of flops, we haven't even mentioned Chris Paul yet. Lest you think Griffin is the only villain in this merry little play, Paul is another fellow who bizarrely is beloved by advertisers in inverse proportion to how his colleagues seem to view him. CP3 was sensational in the playoffs for the first two games against Memphis and then got cocky and decided to let Cliff take over from there against Mike Conley and co. and that didn't go as planned. At the same time, dozens of families with insurance claims in the greater Los Angeles area came to the conclusion that their agent was a jackass.
Good one, guys.
The Clips have everyone returning to the fold just in time for a playoff run, from Jamal Crawford to J.J. Redick to Matt Barnes and Darren Collison. They fortified the bench with Big Baby Davis and Danny Granger and Hedo Turkoglu, or what's left of them. They're so deep on the wings that Jared Dudley has been relegated to towel-waver. Not only do they figure to steamroll past the Warriors, but they're going to give the Thunder a run for their money in what promises to be an epic second round match-up.
My advice to Jackson would be to foul DeAndre Jordan from the second you get off the bus. When you get bored with that, foul Griffin. Hard. It's not like you're gonna have to twist too many of your guys' elbows with that request. "Geez coach, you sure? Well if I gotta."
If this series doesn't induce several references to ESPN's recent "30 for 30" documentary on the "Bad Boys" Pistons, I'm gonna ask for a refund.
Fun stat: Turkoglu actually leads the Clippers in three-point shooting at 44 percent. Be honest, I could've given you seven guesses and you wouldn't have gotten that. Actually nobody else on the squad has even cracked 40 percent. Huh.
Prediction: Clippers in six.