LOS ANGELES – With a 2-1 series lead, the Warriors take the court Sunday afternoon for Game 4 against the Clippers in which one matchup likely will dictate the direction of the game and the series.
It’s not necessarily Kevin Durant vs. Patrick Beverley. Durant hit the jets on Beverley in Game 3, putting an end to the myth they were waging a battle.
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The more impactful matchup is that between Andre Iguodala and Los Angeles scoring whiz Lou Williams – and it surely will be a topic during pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area beginning with Warriors Outsiders at 11 a.m., followed by SNC Playoff Central. Tipoff of the ABC telecast begins at 12:30 p.m.
For the Clippers to have a reasonable chance to win, Williams must produce. When he scored in 36 points on 59-percent shooting in Game 2, LA won by four. When he scored 16 on 36-percent shooting in Game 3, the Warriors won by 27.
For roughly 80 percent of Williams’ playing time in Game 3, he was shadowed by Iguodala – the two were teammates for seven seasons in Philadelphia – who occasionally got help. With Iguodala containing Williams and Draymond Green’s stifling No. 2 scorer Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers were limited on offense.
A repeat of that practically ensures a Warriors victory, giving them a 3-1 series lead going into Game 4 Wednesday in Oakland.
F Kevin Durant
F Draymond Green
C Andrew Bogut
G Klay Thompson
G Stephen Curry
F Patrick Beverley
F Danilo Gallinari
C Ivaca Zubac
G Landry Shamet
G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Warriors: C DeMarcus Cousins (L quadriceps tear) and C Damian Jones (L pectoral surgery) are listed as out.
Clippers: No injuries listed.
Warriors: Durant’s massive Game 3 performance raised the ceiling of the Warriors and could pay dividends for teammates Curry and Thompson in Game 4. More attention on Durant could mean space for the guards.
Kevon Looney and Iguodala have been very good off the bench, with Looney’s playing at high efficiency and Iguodala delivering at both ends. Looney’s success is a bit surprising in that he can’t match the athleticism of LA reserve big man Montrezl Harrell but still has become a problem for the Clippers.
The initial insertion of Bogut at starting center was something of an experiment, with the belief he could match up with Zubac and the hope he could counteract Harrell’s energy. It’s working, for the most part and is not likely to change.
Clippers: Harrell has been their most consistently effective player. He’s averaging 22 ppg (76.5 percent FG) and 6.3 rpg. The Williams-Harrell pick-and-roll had been an issue but was less effective in Game 3.
The Clippers have KD problem and there’s no easy answer for Clippers coach Doc Rivers. The strategy of using Beverley, who gives up at least eight inches in height, is designed to make Durant uncomfortable and limit his off-the-dribble action. Screens consistently freed Durant in Game 3, so it will be interesting to see what, if any, adjustment is made.
[RELATED: Kerr believes Iguodala can play as long as he wants, but will he?]
Gallinari’s 2-of-13 shooting in Game 3 puts him at 14-of-44 (31.8 percent). As the best scorer in LA’s starting lineup, it’s imperative he generate some offense. They’ll look to get more out of Shamet, their designated shooter. With Thompson and Curry doing most of the defensive work, Shamet is averaging 7.0 points (30 percent FG).
Officials: Tony Brothers (crew chief), Sean Wright, Brent Barnaky. Alternate: Tre Maddox.