NBA

NBA Game of the Week: Warriors attempt to stop the rot on the road against Clippers

By Sports Desk March 14, 2023

The Golden State Warriors' NBA title defence has so far been beset by problems – primarily the absences of key personnel.

Even now, there remains no return date for Andrew Wiggins, who has played only 37 of 69 games this season and missed the past 12 for personal reasons.

Stephen Curry is back now but has sat for 26 games this year.

Although the Warriors' most-used lineup in the 2022 playoffs – including both Wiggins and Curry – has again been their most-used lineup in this regular season, it has started just a third of their games.

Yet that does not explain a quite remarkable trend that has developed across this campaign and now causes the Warriors real concern as they go on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Golden State have won their past eight home games, the longest active streak in the NBA, yet they have lost their past eight road games, also the league's longest active streak.

This form extends beyond the past month, too.

Ahead of Tuesday's games, the Warriors possess the fourth-best home record at 29-7, actually improving on last year's winning percentage after a 31-10 performance at Chase Center en route to taking the title.

However, on the road, only tanking duo the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets are worse off than the Warriors, who are an alarming 7-26.

Those contrasting records are still good enough to have the Warriors fifth in the Western Conference, but they are 1.5 games behind the fourth-placed Phoenix Suns, meaning Golden State are set to miss out on home advantage for every round of the playoffs. Clearly, that is an issue.

The Warriors' eight-game losing streak on the road has included each of their prior three games in Los Angeles this season, beaten by the Clippers on Valentine's Day ahead of defeats to the Lakers in consecutive road games. All of their eight straight losses have come against Western Conference rivals.

Now, this latest game at the Clippers – who are sixth in the West with an identical record to the Warriors – marks the start of a five-game road trip, with eight of Golden State's final 13 matchups away from San Francisco.

Their home record may have kept them competitive to this point, but hopes for success in the postseason will require vast improvement on the road moving forward.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Los Angeles Clippers – Kawhi Leonard

As for several Warriors stars, this has been another stop-start season for Leonard, yet he has started seven of the Clippers' eight games since the All-Star break and is finally building momentum again.

Leonard had averaged 22.1 points prior to the All-Star break but has scored 31.0 points per game since then. That is tied for the sixth-best mark in that time, along with Curry.

Golden State Warriors – Klay Thompson

Curry has actually averaged more points on the road this season (30.3) than at home (28.9), but he has lacked support in away games because the same has not been true of team-mate Thompson.

The 33-year-old has scored 24.8 points at home but just 19.0 on the road. However, he has still averaged 24.6 points in those rare road wins.

Golden State will need Curry and Thompson to turn up together to get their road form back on track.

KEY BATTLE – Fast start vital

As much as any Clipper, the Warriors will be battling themselves in the first quarter. Their slow starts in road games have been ever so costly.

Golden State have trailed through the first quarter of 17 games on the road this season. They are an incredible 0-17 in those games.

The Warriors must either make a rapid start or rediscover the sort of championship grit that would allow them to recover when they are up against it on their travels.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The Warriors are 2-1 against the Clippers this season, although those two wins have of course come in San Francisco.

Since 2019, Golden State have won just one of five road games against the Clippers. They had won eight of nine such matchups prior to that in a series they have dominated 137-94 all-time.

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