Warriors vs. Clippers rivalry: How the next big NBA rivalry became a joke

The last time the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors, they had Jordan Farmar and Glen Davis coming off the bench. That was Christmas Day in 2014. They’ve lost to the Warriors in all 11 meetings since.

This year’s Golden State squad even lost three of their first seven games, but had no problem knocking off Los Angeles on Monday. A 4-3 start for the Warriors is atrocious. But a matchup against the Clippers was all they needed to quickly break out of it. There might still be some residual feelings about Los Angeles despite the 11-game winning streak.

After all, this is supposed to be a rivalry — two California teams, two teams that had developed real bad blood. Consider this 2015 headline.


And another one from 2015:


We had a post like this at SB Nation, too.


But a rivalry implies competition, and there hasn’t been any of that since 2014. In 2016, The Mercury News posted this headline: “Warriors ownership of the Clippers has robbed great rivalry.” On Monday, it ran a story titled: “Can Clippers turn this into a rivalry again?”

The Warriors have won 11 straight games, and this isn’t a rivalry to them anymore. This isn’t a rivalry at all. It’s a parade of blowouts.

How did we get here?

From the 2009-10 season to the 2013-14 season, the Clippers and the Warriors tied every division series against each other except for the 2012-13 season, where Los Angeles lost three of the four games. It was a back-and-forth rivalry, one that both teams had equal parts in winning. Only from there did the Warriors’ win streak start to grow.

On Nov. 5, 2014, the Warriors won 121-104. They would lose on Christmas Day one month later, but they won the next two games by a combined 12 points. They won on Nov. 4, 2015, by a margin of 112-108. They beat Los Angeles twice more that season in close games, ones that could have gone either way but didn’t. And then, on March 23, 2016, Golden State blew out the Clippers 114-98.

That’s when the scores start getting lopsided. Last year, despite a worse regular season for the Warriors, the wins against the Clippers started getting even worse. Here are the margins of victory for Golden State: 17 points, 46 points, 13 points, 10 points. We’re up to 10 straight wins for the Warriors.

On Monday, every player that the Warriors put on the court scored, from Stephen Curry’s 31 points to Nick Young’s three in 6:31 minutes played. Three players had six badists, and the team had 37 total on 52 made field goals. They shot 58 percent from the field.

Why do the Clippers keep losing?

Bad luck, bad benches, and bad coaching, mostly. Chris Paul has often become the scapegoat for all the Clippers’ problems, but he acquitted himself fine, averaging 21 points and eight badists on 45.3 percent shooting during his nine matchups with the Warriors during his last three seasons in Los Angeles. The same goes for Blake Griffin: 21.3 points per game since the 2014-15 season against Golden State, plus 7.3 rebounds and 4.1 badists.

The Griffin and DeAndre Jordan frontcourt that has been so deadly against most of the league doesn’t work as well against the small ball Death Lineup that Golden State uses so well. Likewise, the Clippers spent years looking for a suitable wing to plug into their starting five, and they never really found one. Not having two-way, switching wings when playing Golden State is a recipe for failure.

The Warriors won more games — 207 — over the past three regular seasons than any other NBA team has won in history. A lot of teams have lost to them. The Clippers came close to beating them several times, but they didn’t, and now they’ve sporting an 11-game losing streak. That’s what happens when you make a few mistakes against the best regular season team we’ve ever seen.

Better luck on Jan. 6, Clippers.


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