As a closet Clippers fan, I was delighted with the opportunity to watch this game.
Since the Warriors handled the Grizzlies easily, but got blown off the court by the Clippers, it should have been easy to predict how the Clippers would fare against the Grizzlies at home, right? Wrong. This game was closely contested throughout, and was finally decided only as the final horn sounded, when Rudy Gay’s dead-on 3 point attempt hit the back rim. How is this possible?
Some of you might point out that this was the back end of a home and away back-to-back for the Clippers. Too true. But you’re not going to win that argument. For the Grizzlies, this was also a back-to-back game. And it was the fifth game of a grueling 5 game in 7 night road trip. So what happened? Why was a team that was so clearly superior to the Warriors played so closely by a team that couldn’t hang with the Warriors?
The answer, as I watched this game, came easily to me. The answer was Marc Gasol. Marc Gasol didn’t shut down Chris Kaman. Indeed, by the box score, Kaman had another superb game. But what Marc Gasol did was play Chris Kaman man-to-man. The Grizzlies never had to double team him. And that left them able to stay at home on Baron Davis and Eric Gordon and Rasual Butler and Sebastian Telfair. The result of that was huge: those four who combined to torch the Warriors for 25-52 shooting (60%) were only able to muster 20-46 (43%) in this game.
The significance of this to the Warriors fans who were stunned by their team’s colossal failure against the Clippers should be clear. The absence of the two Warriors centers who could have played Kaman man-to-man, and who if they were both healthy, could even have combined to significantly slow him down, was absolutely fatal to the Warriors’ chances in that game. While I’m not going to entirely dismiss the significant chemistry problems of the remainder of the Warriors team that suffered the Friday Night Massacre, I think it’s worth pointing out that that team was not the actual Warriors team.
It was something much, much less. Let’s hope Beans and Rony Turiaf get well soon.