If Steve Kerr could somehow perform hypnosis to convince the Warriors that every opponent were the Clippers, they would go undefeated with an average margin of victory somewhere north of 25. That's how much Golden State loves not just beating, but humiliating, the team that was once their "rival," the Los Angeles Clippers.
Golden State vanquished/annihilated/crushed/destroyed/beat the Clippers 144-98 Saturday night. They scored 86 points spanning the second and third quarters, with Steph Curry going for 25 in the third on his way to 43 points for the game.
He didn't play in the fourth quarter.
Curry had one of those special nights in what is becoming a return to his 2015-16 unanimous MVP self since the loss to Cleveland on Christmas. He has been that reality-warping player again, launching 35-foot threes that are unguardable, and dropping shots from beyond half-court that everyone in the building know are good before they drop. Watch the Warriors bench:
That's the kind of thing that only Curry can do. When he's in this zone, the game is over before the ball is tipped.
For the Clippers, there will be talk about Chris Paul and his absence, as there was talk about Blake Griffin's absence in the last matchup, as if any one player is going to make up that kind of difference. No player is worth that difference. Even if you put Curry on the Clippers on Saturday night, he takes some of the minutes and points from Austin Rivers and Raymond Felton, and they still get blown out.
This is not a Chris Paul thing or a Blake Griffin thing. It is a matter of one team dictating the terms of engagement and the other team meekly surrendering. The Clippers have been dogged, goaded and embarrassed by the Warriors in each encounter the last two years and every time they have just gone into surrender cobra mode and buckled.
At some point, you keep waiting for the Clippers to play with urgency and viciousness to match the Warriors out of professional pride, but no.
Would Paul have helped their situation? Sure. He might have made it a standard blowout. But the result was never in doubt, not when Curry plays like this. Not when he's in Unanimous MVP mode.
The only hope for the Clippers at this point is that the playoffs will be a totally different animal, and in their defense, that's been the case for Golden State. They haven't really dominated a serious team in a playoff series yet. Even their five-game victory over the Rockets in 2015 had two close games to start. But all we have to go on since Kerr arrived is how these games have gone and to be honest, they've been disastrous for the Clippers.
For Golden State, it's meaningful that they keep fixing whatever problem arises. To start the year their defense was suspect; it's now first in the league. Curry was little more than a nice decorative bonus piece for months, now he's back to being the engine that makes them terrifying. They get better week by week at each part of the game and the team that everyone marveled at conceptually when Durant joined them on July 4, when everyone asked "How do you possibly beat this team?" That team has shown up and is every bit as terrifying for the rest of the league as it was thought to be.
The playoffs are three months away. Golden State is ready. The Clippers continue to be the team that can't get healthy, can't figure out the Warriors, and show no desperation in trying to do so. If they meet in the playoffs, it would feel very much like a matter of when, and by how much, the Warriors win. We have no other evidence to rely on.
The Warriors have matchups, results and mojo.
The Clippers have nothing but bad dreams.