It is possible that the Clippers' ninth straight loss to the Warriors -- a 133-120 affair at Staples Center on Thursday night -- is the tipping point for L.A. It's possible that Doc Rivers, out of frustration says "We're not good enough, and we have to do something. We can't just sit here." It's not out of the realm of possibility for Thursday night to be the night that the Clippers decide to pull the trigger and force through the deal necessary to acquire New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
After all, the Clippers didn't have enough firepower, even with the Warriors being without Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston and Zaza Pachulia, not with Chris Paul still out with his hand injury. Maybe Melo goes for 40 and takes over, willing the Clippers to a victory with a clutch bucket.The Clippers can't hang with Golden State, so they've got to add more firepower. You can see that being a plausible line of thought for Rivers and the Clippers' braintrust.
And it's all wrong.
The bigger takeaway from the latest exhibition of the Warriors' playfully toying with and then dissecting L.A. like mean kids with the frog in freshman biology is that Anthony is not the answer. Golden State shot 53 percent against the Clippers on Thursday. Melo is not going to help with that. Chris Paul might, though he hasn't had much luck, either. (The Clippers have a 121 defensive rating, which is awful, with Paul on the floor in two games against the Warriors this season.) But Melo is definitely not going to help with that.
The Warriors had 23 fast-break points Thursday, and Anthony is not going to help with that, either.
Anthony might have helped with the fact that Golden State out-rebounded the Clippers despite their size advantage, but would that have swung the contest? If neither the Clippers' offensive efficiency nor defense did not get worse with Anthony, then sure.
But the Clippers had a 116 offensive efficiency in this game, which is stellar. They just gave up a 128 defensive efficiency. It's the defense. And you don't trade for Carmelo Anthony to improve your defense.
The idea circulating is that the Clippers can get Anthony without giving up Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan, and so why not? But if the Clippers' ultimate goal is to make the Finals, and make the Finals only, they have to get past the Warriors. The odds of that happening, no matter what moves they make, are exceptionally slim. Thursday reinforced that. The Clippers have had every motivation to come out and simply out-effort the Warriors. Golden State didn't have its leading rebounder, Draymond Green, on Thursday and yet they still beat the Clippers on the glass. The Clippers just flat-out do not have the will to beat Golden State, according to every piece of evidence we have.
There are tactical reasons, sure. There are concrete, basketball reasons why the Warriors constantly beat the Clips like a drum, but to ignore the emotional and mental edge that Golden State holds would be sheer stubbornness. And Anthony is not going to change that, either.
If the Clippers are going to pull off that miracle upset, they'll need solid guard defense, like Austin Rivers'. They'll need smart play, like what J.J. Redick provides. And they'll need a random Jamal Crawford game.
Is that formula a lower bar to clear than hoping Carmelo Anthony goes off for 40 nightly against the best defense in the league?
Griffin finally cracked the 30-point ceiling for the Clippers on Thursday night. It was the first time this season a Clipper has scored more than 30 points, as he finished with 31 points, eight rebounds and two assists. But in the 84 minutes he's played against Golden State this season, the Clippers have been outscored by 57 points.
The Warriors are a better team, even short-handed, than the Clippers without Chris Paul. They are, in all likelihood, a better team than the Clippers in a playoff series with both sides fully healthy. That has to be frustrating for the Clippers, who have legitimately been a great team the last three seasons, even if they have no conference finals appearances. But if they can talk the Knicks into taking a bad deal for Anthony, it still doesn't make it a good deal for the Clippers. Too much has to go right, in no time at all, for it to work, and that's before they find an answer to the Warriors problem, a puzzle that may not have a solution.
The Clippers lost to the Warriors, again, on Thursday, and even without Paul it brings questions about their ability to really challenge Golden State, again. Yes, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, but embracing a component that doesn't further your No.1 goal isn't far behind.
L.A. still doesn't have an answer for the Warriors, but they're also not going to find it by trading for Melo.