Extra Pass: Clippers seek first win with Westbrook

Published March 2, 2023, 3:00 PMPolo Bustamante

Russell Westbrook and the Clippers hope to get a victory when they take on the Warriors tomorrow.

What’s up with the LA Clippers?

The Clippers were rampaging up the standings before the All-Star break. They won 10 of their 14 games at that point and were fifth in the West with a 33-28 record. After the hiatus, LA’s momentum is all but gone after losing three straight games.

Coincidentally, their three losses have been the three games that their new acquisition, Russell Westbrook, has played in. Naturally, the blame goes to Westbrook because he’s a popular punching bag. Taking a look at the numbers, Westbrook has been a minus-14 in the three games he’s played with his new team so far. Those numbers don’t look good when placed side by side with the Clippers’ losing margin in those games (a combined 17 points).

While Westbrook isn’t faultless, he isn’t the only one that’s been having a rough time in the past three games. Eric Gordon was a combined minus-29 in their losses to the Sacramento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Marcus Morris and Mason Plumlee were a combined minus-32 in their loss to the Denver Nuggets. 

All of these numbers mean just one thing. The Clippers are back to trying to figure things out. They’re not only integrating Westbrook into their system as the starting point guard, but they also have a whole new bench in Gordon, Plumlee, and Terance Mann who used to be a starter. 

In the hyper competitive West, starting from scratch at this point in the season is tough. A win or loss the wrong way could drop the Clippers out of their current spot at sixth and into the play-in tournament. The team, especially Westbrook, needs a breakthrough win right now.

What’s up with the Golden State Warriors?

If the Clippers are starting from scratch with a new point guard, the Warriors are staying above water without their superstar point guard.

In the nine games that Curry has missed due to a leg injury, the Warriors have managed to win five of those games. More importantly, they’ve gained momentum after the All-Star break with three straight wins. This puts them at 32-30 for the season, holding steady at fifth place in the West.

There are a couple of reasons for this current run that the Warriors have been on. The first is Klay Thompson. The lone Splash Brother has taken on the role of the main scorer of the team. In the last three games, he’s been averaging 32.3 points on seven 3-pointers per game. For someone that’s been a secondary option for most of his career, it’s refreshing to see Thompson break out of his shell to lead Golden State to crucial wins.

The second reason is Jordan Poole. After signing a big contract early in the season, Poole has played inconsistently for most of the season. But with Curry out, the team had no choice but to have him run the show as their starting point guard. Poole has responded with stellar play. He’s one of the leaders of the team in assists in the past nine games, averaging 6.3 a game. He also showed that he can still score with the best of them. In their last win, Thompson was checked by the defense, so Poole led the team with 29 points.

Thompson and Poole are peaking at the right time for the Warriors. This comes at a great time, as there are reports of Curry returning as early as next week. All Golden State has to do is hold on until their leader is back on the floor with them.

Storyline to watch out for

Defensively, the Clippers have the players to match up with Poole and Thompson. They can put Kawhi Leonard or Paul Goerge on either one of them to stifle the Warriors’ offense. That’s a huge problem that Coach Steve Kerr has to figure out. 

If one of Poole or Thompson gets shut down, where will he pull production from? He doesn’t lack options though. In their last win against the Portland Trail Blazers, six players scored in double figures with Donte DiVincenzo joining Poole and Thompson as 20-point scorers. Kerr just has to be able to free up his Plan Cs and Ds when the Clippers target his Plan A and B in Thompson and Poole.


In terms of talent, the Clippers just have too much of that right now. While they’re still trying to figure out who fits where during the game, at the end of the day, they still have two All-NBA guys to lean on in Leonard and George. 

That’s the difference-maker in this matchup - Leonard and George can lead the team on both ends of the floor. They’re the clear advantage LA has against a team playing without their own All-NBA guy.

Where to watch

You can watch the Clippers and Warriors battle for playoff seeding at 11:00 AM live on NBA TV Philippines, via Smart LiveStream or Cignal TV, or on NBA League Pass.