The Golden State Warriors have moved onto the next round in the NBA playoffs, but not without a fight from their first opponent, the Los Angeles Clippers. After such an overpowering win last season over Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors were expected to have an easy time yet again this year. But, they struggled, as the Clippers forced a Game 6 in the series.
It seemed as if the Warriors were going to bring the same level of dominance as they have been in the past couple seasons. Winning multiple championships in the past years showed that they were a force to be reckoned with. The Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, along with Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, all contributed to the team’s success. So, this year was expected to be no different. After beating such a strong team with the Cavs in the finals last year 4-0, the first round should have been really easy, but the Clippers gave them a strong fight.
After leading the NBA playoffs in points per game, the Warriors were ready for Game 1 and did not disappoint. Curry had a team leading 38 points and a double-double, while Durant had 23. The Clippers gave a good fight, as Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams, who both come from the bench, scored 26 and 25 points respectively. But, in the end, the Warriors came out on top, 121-104.
The biggest news story of the series was the matchup between Durant and Patrick Beverley. With Durant being such a powerful foe, Beverley had to be very aggressive in order to cover him. The whole game, Beverley showed Durant his strength, and Durant acknowledged it, saying he has a “different type of grit” coming from Chicago, according to CBS Sports. They were both eventually ejected in the fourth quarter, but it showed that the Clippers were not about to give up a sweep.
This was exactly the case in the next game, where the Clippers showed off their raw talent. The Warriors did again dominate, as they had a 31 point lead at one instance. But, it all went downhill from there, as Williams scored 36 points and a double-double to lead the charge and have the largest postseason comeback in NBA history. This historic matchup showed the Clippers were a force that the Warriors couldn’t just sweep by.
After getting to a 3-1 series lead, the Clippers’ season was on the line, and they showed up in Game 5. Even after Durant’s 45 points, the Clippers were able to overcome the Warriors to force a Game 6. Lou Williams came off the bench and scored 33 points in the 129-121 win.
However, it was the Warriors who came out on top, taking the series in Game 6. Durant again played a momentous game, scoring a career playoff high of 50 points. This was just too much for the Clippers, and they lost 129-110.
Next up was the Houston Rockets, led by the infamous James Harden. Harden, who just came off a near sweep of the Utah Jazz, looked to take down the Warriors. In Game 1, Curry and Thompson did not have impressive stats, but the Warriors were able to pull off the win given Durant’s 35 points. What may also have contributed to the Warriors’ win was the no-call fouls on Harden and Chris Paul. After attempting a three, both Paul and Harden looked to be contacted, but there was no foul called. This sparked outrage in Rockets’ fans and caused a pretty significant gripe with the referees. In fact, Paul got ejected on the Rockets’ last possession due to his anger towards the calls.
In Game 2, the Rockets tried to get an edge on the Warriors, but the power of Golden State was on full display. Even though Durant and Harden were tied with 29 points, 20 plus games from Curry and Thompson carried the team to victory. Both teams, however, struggled in the game, as they lost key players to injuries. Harden left the game for a while, as he got hit in the face multiple times. Curry left the game with a dislocated left middle finger, but was also able to return with it taped. Even with all of these drawbacks, GSW was able to get the win, 115-109.