Did the Golden State Warriors receive the wake up call in Game 2? Just days after letting a huge 31-point lead slip in the second half, the Warriors completed the two-game road sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round of the NBA playoffs. The Warriors held off the competitive Clippers during a 113-105 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Finally, Klay Thompson was able to go off somewhat. Thompson flourished in the first half, scoring 27 of his 32 points before the break. Thompson made the most of his early opportunities with some easy buckets. As soon as he got hot, Thompson started to fire away from 3-point range to finish the first quarter with 27 points. It seemed like Thompson was going to have one of those games. Instead, the Clippers adjusted their defense slightly and paid for it another way.
Normally, a player of Thompson’s caliber gets plenty of looks when he has it going. However, he only finished the game 12 of 20 from the field, including 6 of 9 from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant exploded for a game-high 33 points on 12 of 21 shooting. Durant made 3 of his 6 shot attempts from 3-point range. He also decimated the defense in both halves with a plethora of offensive moves from every aspect of the court.
For the first time, the Clippers altered their defensive matchups to start the game. They went with a normal rotation of defenders. JaMychal Green earned the first shot at Durant. Overall, the matchup did not help. However, the conventional system did help Thompson find more room in the open floor.
More than anything, it was the Warriors’ defensive effort in one specific area that really turned the tide. Although they held an eight-point halftime lead, the Warriors gave up the lead on Landry Shamet’s 3-pointer midway through the third period. The shot gave the Clippers a 75-73 lead with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter. Moments later, Shamet gave the Clippers a three point lead at the 4:29 mark of the third quarter. Then Danilo Gallinari found Montrezl Harrell for a wide open dunk to give the Clippers an 82-77 lead.
However, the Warriors answered with an 8-0 run to reclaim the lead. Stephen Curry had a quick flurry to end the quarter with seven quick points. He only scored 12 in the entire game. Yes, Curry came through for a moment.
But their defense on Lou Williams really set the tone in the fourth quarter. Williams, the normal closer for the Clippers had the game within range on Sunday night. The Clippers were within three points in the final 12 minutes. Yet, stout defense did not let Williams get comfortable all game. He was held to 12 points on 2 of 10 shooting in 29 minutes.
Point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Clippers with 25 points. However, nobody expected the rookie to carry the load in the final stanza. As a result, the half court defense really stifled the young guards down the stretch.
Now, the Warriors are one win away from a potential matchup with the Houston Rockets. The Rockets are also a single win away from advancing into the second round. They are up (3-0) on the Utah Jazz.
The Warriors shot 47 percent from the field in the win. Despite Curry going 1 of 9 from 3-point range, they still shot 38.7 percent as a team. Meanwhile, the Clippers shot 42.5 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range. They connected on 13 of 31 3-point attempts, while the Warriors were 12 of 31 from 3-point range. The Clippers even made seven more free throws than the Warriors. However, they missed eight foul shots on the game. Interestingly enough, the final margin was eight points.
Game 5 is set for Wednesday April 24 on TNT. It will be the Warriors’ first chance to close out the series at home.