Long before the Golden State Warriors battled the Boston Celtics for their fourth championship in eight seasons, or Draymond Green became Cleveland’s No. 1 public enemy after four consecutive clashes in the NBA Finals — a different contender was at the top of Golden State’s target list.
In an appearance on the Checc’n In with Big U Podcast, Draymond Green talked about the rivalry that started it all for the Golden State Warriors.
“For us, when we really started to come to play in the west, was once we started having battles with the Clippers.”
If it feels like a decade since Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were catapulting the LA Clippers into title contention — that’s because it has been. These two teams met in the postseason for the first time in 2014, throwing haymakers at each other for seven games.
Though they only met once in the playoffs, the Dubs and Clips had built up plenty of bad blood through the regular season.
This tension reached a climax in 2014. A physical, gritty showdown ensued as the Clippers ultimately prevailed 126-121 in Game 7.
Griffin led all scorers with 23.3 points per game. Curry was just behind him at 23.0 points.
At the time, Draymond was still fighting for starter minutes, coming off the bench for three games of this series. Green averaged 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks — giving a clear indication of the impact he could have.
But while the Dubs have gone on to build numerous classic rivalries, their initial feud with the Clippers has mostly been forgotten.
Perhaps it is because the Clippers mostly proved to be all bark, no bite.
“Who we were looking at was everyone at that time was talking about how the Clippers were the next young team up, but we didn’t believe that… If this is who y’all think is ‘next up’ then we know we can beat them.”
Draymond Green via Caffeine.tv
Despite constantly being heralded as the next big threat to the NBA’s hierarchy, Lob City never left the second round. Even with major victories over the San Antonio Spurs, the Clippers consistently crumbled before reaching the Conference Finals.
In contrast, the Dubs only met a few speedbumps along the way to their first title. They fell to a clearly superior Spurs team in 2013 before narrowly losing to the Clippers in 2014.
From there, it was all up for the Warriors. Curry snatched the MVP in 2015 as Golden State knocked off the King in Cleveland to capture a championship.
By the time Golden State was hoisting its second championship in 2017, Lob City had been entirely demolished with the Clippers entering a full rebuild.
The Warriors and Clippers’ short-lived rivalry might be all but forgotten, but it is the one that started it all for Golden State. The Clips served as a bar for the Warriors to aim for and they eventually cleared it with ease.