OAKLAND – The NBA playoffs have arrived and that means everything is changing for the 16 teams involved, including the Warriors, who have reached such an exceptionally high status that every season should end, if not unexpectedly, by a championship parade .
Many details forgotten in the monotony of the regular season of 82 games are now under the microscope. Each possession is amplified in real time, then reviewed, sometimes reviewed. The air seems thicker, the room is warmer and the emotions too.
"This next practice, after the last game of the season, creates a different feeling," said Kevin Durant recently. "You do things differently. You prepare differently. You climb the stairs to review the game plans instead of doing it (practice field). Everything is different. This locks you, keeps you focused.
"The games go so fast in the regular season, with some trips and missed practice. When we arrive at 3 o'clock in the morning, we do not have time to train that day. We have a lot of them and that takes a bit of preparation for a game.
"But now you can just focus on one opponent, get ready for each player, and everyone focuses on their work. This facilitates the playoffs. "
The first round is opposed to the Clippers of Los Angeles and the first match will be held Saturday at 17 hours at Oracle Arena. Top-ranked warriors are strongly favored to send LA, and they would like to do it as quickly as possible.
Assuming that Stephen Curry is not affected by this fit to the right ankle maintained Tuesday, if the Warriors are successful in these four areas, a sweep is quite likely:
1) Keep them out of line
The Clippers specialize in fouls and free throws, leading the league in both categories in the regular season. Three players – Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari and Montrezl Harrell – averaged at least five free throws per game and the team average is 28.5.
If the Warriors are fouled and the Clippers sneak close to the free throw line, it will give them easy points and also slow down the game – two things that work against the champions.
2) punish them in the interior
The Clippers rank among the top five in defense of 3-point shots, but they are vulnerable to paint. They do not have effective protection on the rims. The cousins of DeMarcus will have the opportunity to punish them with painting, while Kevin Durant will manage anywhere in the bow.
That is not to say that they should ignore the fireworks of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and others. It makes sense to exploit a weakness.
3) Do not get Lou'd
The warriors have been here before. They know what Williams can do. Best bench marker in the league, he lit them 50 points in 35 minutes during a game of last season. If coach Doc Rivers chooses to set up Williams, it will weaken his bench and could play in favor of the Warriors, Williams' defense being easily exploitable.
Since there was no other legitimate offensive threat in the rotation in Los Angeles (Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari were injured), do not think that Williams can not win a match on his own.[[[[RELATED: 2019 NBA playoff ranking]
4) Do not have the impression
Two NBA cities, Miami and LA, are well known for having worked against opposing teams. With the third game on Thursday night and the fourth on Sunday afternoon, the Friday and Saturday warriors will be available to explore, relax or stay busy.
It's Southern California and the weather forecasts are delicious, so there will be temptations. There are professionals, however, and if they remain focused, they should be able to happily return to the Bay Area on the evening of April 21st.