Never fear. In this evolving age of tact, poise and reason, the Clippers and Warriors still really, really hate each other.
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Los Angeles and Golden State have the NBA’s best rivalry and it’s not even close. It dates back three years to 2012-13, it has run strong through the last offseason and even the exhibition season – as evidenced by the Clippers’ antics as they ran away with a (meaningless) 35-point win on Tuesday on their home court.
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Following the game, reserve Warriors guard Shaun Livingston seemed more than a little miffed that the Clippers could stop chirping in a game placed some eight months before the time in which they’re supposed to hit their peak.
“They were out there talking. If they want to talk, we want to talk,” Livingston told CSNBayArea.com. “We’re not going to just back down. They’re up 20 and talking, up 30 and still talking.”
“He’s going with all these antics; just play,” Livingston said. “He’s out here wrapping me up, putting elbows to my forehead. Ok. I understand. Don’t get me wrong. They want to beat us.
“I’ve got 12 years in this thing, and you’re out here trying to throw elbows at me and wrap me up and do all that,” Livingston said. “That makes no sense to me. Just play and you don’t have to do all of that. You’re big enough and strong enough that you can just box me out without doing all of that.”
“That’s just what you have to deal with. I see it. I recognize it.”
The Warriors are learning about life as defending champs. And it’s good that Livingston, in just his second year with the team, does recognize it.
In today’s blink-and-you-missed-it-wait-you-blinked-again-and-now-Shaun-Livingston-is-a-12-year-vet NBA culture, the Clipper/Warrior rivalry feels like it has lasted for ages.
It really has only gone back to 2012-13, when an upstart Warrior squad took three of four boisterous games from the previous season’s upstart team: Los Angeles’ Clippers. The Clippers were dismayed by Golden State’s rather vocal approach in those wins, and in an opening night pairing with each other the next fall, Andrew Bogut got into a shoving match with Clipper center DeAndre Jordan.
Just a few days later, the Clippers refused to let any Warriors use their pregame chapel, usually a safe haven for players from both teams. Keeping up with the theme, on Christmas night Blake Griffin picked up his second technical and automatic ejection after a tussle with Bogut. That same night, then-little-used reserve forward Draymond Green received a flagrant two foul and ejection for elbowing Griffin in the neck at the third quarter’s final buzzer.
Following the Golden State win against an addled, Griffin-less Clipper squad, both teams jawed and engaged in some minor pushing after the final buzzer sounded.
The Clippers retaliated with a physical and at times nasty 4-3 first round playoff win over the Warriors during that spring’s playoffs, and the W’s retaliated by firing coach Mark Jackson, adding Steve Kerr, jostling the program and winning 67 games before taking their first NBA championship in decades. Not before “cool story, Glenn,” of course.
The Clippers? They responded by amping up their own roster, and needling the Warriors about the fact that Golden State didn’t have to go through either Los Angeles or San Antonio in last year’s Western playoff bracket – hoping terribly that we’d forget the Clipper second round collapse against Houston along the way. The Warriors, as they should, pointed at the scoreboard.
Los Angeles lit up the scoreboard on Tuesday, running a Stephen Curry (rest) and Andre Iguodala (can you believe this guy was the Finals MVP?)-less Warriors team off the floor at Staples Center. Chris Paul, playing in an exhibition game in the third week of October, was at his late-April best:
Paul was ejected after asking referee Eric Lewis, a 12-year vet (one year longer than Paul) to not treat him “like a little kid.”
The Clippers know that this has to be their year, as they bank on a disparate collection of talents working at varying ages. For myriad reasons, most of them (with notable exceptions) not his fault, Paul has yet to make a Conference finals. The Western bracket will be as hectic as ever this spring, and the Clippers are already champing at the bit to get to April, already.
The Warriors? Stereotype would have them instinctually backing off a bit as they ready for what they hope will be yet another 100-plus game slog, especially as their thoughts are with Steve Kerr – recovering from a debilitating offseason back surgery, working with a yet-to-be-determined return date.
Interim coach Luke Walton is more than capable of leading the Warriors to the lead record in the West as Kerr recovers in the early part of the regular season, and though the exhibition season’s record is hardly a barometer of good tidings to come, the Warriors’ 2-4 showing thus far has its core somewhat dismayed.
Here’s Draymond Green one week ago, from Diamond Leung at the Bay Area News Group:
“I think the frustration is stemming from we know what it takes. And regardless yeah it’s preseason or whatever, you know what it takes.”
Calling his own level of energy “awful” and inconsistent, Green was especially upset about the previous two losses and not necessarily because of the final score. It was more so because as Green described it, the Warriors “failed to live up to who we are.”
“It ain’t about a win or loss at this point, but even if we won the games I’d be pissed off because there’s a way to win and there’s a way to lose,” Green said.
It’s good to pace yourself, it’s good not to overreact to October basketball, but it’s good to also realize that the execution isn’t up to snuff. No matter if it comes in a meaningless loss, or even a meaningless exhibition win.
We just hope that, come spring, the brackets align and we finally get a Kerr vs. Rivers-coached Clippers/Warriors series. Perhaps we should start petitioning the NBA to allow for the Warriors to play the Clippers eight times this season, instead of merely four. Just give the Lakers a break, y’know?
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