There was a large media contingent at Warriors’ shootaround on Wednesday morning – just hours before their game against the LA Clippers at Oracle Arena. Supposedly, the rival LA Clippers.
But if the Clippers are, in fact, a big-time enemy of the Warriors why weren’t any of the Golden State players asked about them? It’s true that during a media session that included access to Stephen Curry, Festus Ezeli and Shaun Livingston at the team’s downtown Oakland practice facility, nobody asked any of them about the game against the Clippers later that night.
John Dickinson, my co-host on the “NBA This Week” on 95.7-FM The Game, was there. Not a peep about the Clips.
Reporters asked about the Warriors pursuing the Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins during the 1995-96 season, whether or not the plan was to rest any players as the season winds down, the preponderance of home games remaining, the status of Ezeli, etc. But not a thing about the Clippers.
There’s a reason for that. This ain’t a rivalry anymore. Since the LA Clippers eliminated the Warriors two years ago in the postseason’s first round – in a seven-game series in which starting center Andrew Bogut didn’t play – Golden State has flat-out owned the Clippers.
The Warriors beat the Clippers 114-98 on Wednesday, their seventh win in eight games against Los Angeles. Golden State completed a four-game sweep this season with the victory. Wednesday’s game had little physicality, virtually no chippiness and seemingly no hard feelings between the teams. That’s not the way it used to be. Where’s Matt Barnes when you need him?
It wasn’t long ago that skirmishes abounded among the players on each team. And remember the time the Clippers didn’t allow the Warriors into their pregame chapel service in LA? Or how about the jawing and posturing between Mark Jackson and Blake Griffin during a sidelines inbounds play?
“That’s up to you guys to keep calling it a rivalry,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the game. “From Day 1, I keep saying I’m not sure what it is. I think same state, there is definitely some animosity, but they’re the champions and we’re not. I think everybody right now are chasers.”
The Warriors, now 64-7, have beaten the Clippers in every conceivable way over the past two years. The Warriors have blown out the Clippers, they’ve come from behind to beat them and they’ve beaten them down the stretch in close games.
Afterward, even Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the game lacked “juice.”
Used to be – like a year or two ago – the Wariors-Clippers was the best rivalry in the NBA. Maybe it still can be the best rivalry, particularly if LA can find a way to get another crack at Golden State in the playoffs. But in order for this thing to ratchet up again, the Clippers are going to need to win a game. Just one.