Why Clippers’ preseason game vs. Warriors is a must-win


Before I get into this, you have to promise not to get mad, ok? I’m serious.


Ok, thanks.

The truth is there has never been and there will never be a preseason basketball “must-win” game. They just don’t exist. The games are nothing more than extensions of practices. They mean nothing in the standings and the only reason they keep track of records and track stats is to appease us fans.

So then, what gives with the title to this article? Remember, you promised not to be mad.

The truth is while this game isn’t a must-win, it is a game in which the Los Angeles Clippers need to make a statement. I just thought “must-win” made for a catchier title.

Ok, I’m glad we had this little talk and I was able to get that off my chest. Now, on to why this is a statement game.

I wrote an article last week about the silliness of assigning too much value to preseason games. In fact, I developed my very own advanced sabre metric calculation to scientifically prove it. My calls and emails to the NBA office have thus far gone unanswered, but I’m sure that’s just because they are busy preparing for the upcoming season. I’m confident jOsE (the metric) will soon be adopted as a NBA standard.

(Full disclosure, there is nothing scientific, advanced or in any way official about jOsE. It’s just a silly thing I created to type my name in this article more. Believe it or not, some thought I was being serious. I’m rarely, if ever, 100 percent serious.)

While we know that preseason games mean nothing, certain habits developed during preseason can seep into the regular season. Those games, of course, mean something. Reader Alfredo Rodriquez was quick to point out just that fact when he tweeted.

You know you can leave comments here, don’t you? I’m happy to receive and respond to tweets, but leaving comments here just seems so much easier.

Or, I guess you can feel free to tweet me your thoughts like Alfredo did. I am pretty sure I have the distinction of being the person who has been with Twitter the longest (joined March of 2008) with the least amount of followers (36). I have contacted the Guinness Book of World Records and am just waiting on confirmation.

Anyway, yes, while the final score of preseason games means nothing, the attitudes and habits developed throughout these games do mean something.

Which takes us to the Clippers’ next preseason game on October 20. To date, we have seen the following habits on display for the Clippers: apathy, disorganization, lack of energy and overall confusion. Sadly, each trait has been repeated. Anything you repeat over and over ultimately becomes your habit, it’s who you are. That’s true for a person as well as a basketball team.

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The record means nothing, the habits developed do.

What better time to shake off the doldrums and show us what the Clippers basketball team will really look like in the 2015-16 season than against the World Champion Golden State Warriors? Imagine a game where the Clippers reverse the habits they have shown to date. Imagine a game where they play with passion, in an organized way with boundless energy, where everyone understands their role and excels in it. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the NBA.

That is what the preseason is for, to find that sweet spot. It’s the time to develop good habits, to get to know your teammates and to build a team as opposed to a group of individuals. To date, this has eluded the Clippers.

Going into the 2002-03 NBA preseason, the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings had a fun rivalry. It was born in the playoffs and was cemented in NBA lore in the preseason. The Lakers were coming off another championship (yawn) while the Kings were licking their wounds after a loss to those Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. In that series the Kings were up 2-1 when Robert Horry decided to win Game four for L.A.

To say these two teams disliked each other is as obvious as saying the Kardashians are on TV too much.

In their first game since the Lakers beat the Kings in the WCF, the dislike, or maybe hatred, was in full display. That dislike led to Doug Christie playing an aggressive style of defense generally not seen during the preseason while guarding Rick Fox. That aggressive style of defense generally not seen during the preseason led Fox to elbow Christie. That elbow led Christie to retaliate which led to a Fox retaliation which led to a Christie uppercut to Fox’s jaw.

Both players were ejected. On the way to his locker-room, Christie was met by a still agitated Fox who ambushed him in the player’s tunnel.

Necessary? Not even remotely. Did it set a tone for the upcoming season? You betcha.

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Fast forward to 2015. The Clippers and Warriors have been lobbying softballs at each other for a while. Doc Rivers says something, then Draymond Green takes offense, then Doc explains. It’s all a bit silly. While I don’t get the sense that these teams hate each other on par with the Lakers vs. Kings, I do feel a bit of dislike and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The NBA hasn’t had a healthy and organically grown rivalry in some time.

Now, please understand that I am not advocating an ambush. DeAndre Jordan should not hide behind a concession stand ready to pounce on Andre Iguodala. Nope, nope, nope. It is time, however, to send a message that the games to date have been an aberration. It’s time to prove that the alarm has gone off and the Clippers’ collective hand is off the snooze button.

It’s time to wake up; it’s time to bring it.

Clippers, its time to show the fans, the Warriors and the NBA what they can expect from you this season. Must-win, no it’s not. Time to wake-up and make an impact against a rival? Oh, you betcha.

It’s time.

Next: Clippers 2015-16 Player Preview: Jamal Crawford