NBA: Curry out to extend Clippers' losing run after All-Star exploits
Having excelled in the All-Star Game on Sunday, the Warriors' Stephen Curry will now look to do the same against the Clippers.
The NBA is back in action after the All-Star break, with an enticing Western Conference clash in store on Thursday.
While the Golden State Warriors are far from being the force they were at the peak of their dynasty, an incredible season from Stephen Curry is keeping them firmly in the playoff hunt.
Curry's remarkable scoring talents and his stunning shooting from three-point range can be an equaliser in any game and means the Los Angeles Clippers, despite their superior place in the standings, can take little for granted at Staples Center.
The Clippers go into this clash on a four-game losing streak and will need Kawhi Leonard – enjoying his best shooting season since 2013-14 by converting on 51.1 per cent of his attempts from the field – and Paul George to be at their best to avoid that run being extended.
Golden State Warriors - Stephen Curry
It may be predictable to identify Curry as the key man for the Warriors but, if they are to make the playoffs, it is going to be a case of him against the world.
Curry is coming off a spectacular performance at the All-Star Game, where he won the three-point contest for a second time before playing a starring role in Team LeBron's victory.
He has an average of 24.7 points per game for his career against the Clippers and put up 38 in the previous meeting between the two.
Curry will be out for a repeat performance in his first game versus the Clippers in LA since January 2019.
Los Angeles Clippers - Paul George
George was also on the winning team at the All-Star game in Atlanta, having played a pivotal role alongside Leonard for the Clippers.
For Los Angeles, George is the player whose presence on the court appears to have the biggest impact, given he leads the team with a plus-minus rating of 8.6
He is also the player best suited to help the Clippers keep pace if Curry begins a deluge from beyond the arc. George leads the Clippers in three-point attempts (7.8 per game) and is shooting 45 per cent from deep.
His effective field goal percentage of 60.4 is also a team-high and ranks above that of Curry (59.5).
KEY BATTLE - WARRIORS MUST LIMIT SECOND CHANCES
The weakness of the Warriors continues to be on the boards. Golden State is second last in total defensive rebounds this season with 1,381.
As a result of their inability to dominate on the glass, only one team – the Brooklyn Nets (556) – have given up more second-chance points than the Warriors (526).
The Clippers have racked up 485 second-chance points this term, 10th in the NBA, and with the consistency with which Leonard and George are shooting the ball, the game could get away from the Warriors in a hurry if they allow Los Angeles to dictate on the boards.
HEAD TO HEAD
The two teams split the first pair of games in San Francisco this season, the Warriors bouncing back with a 115-105 win two days after suffering a 108-101 defeat.
That victory ended a run of four successive losses to the Clippers that stretched back to October 2019.
Only two of the last seven games between the Warriors and Clippers have been decided by single digits, indicating a close encounter may not be in the offing.