Month: August 2013

A Giants’ Fan’s Perspective on the Oakland Athletics

Kyle Ohlin, of Oakland, is part of a very vocal but small group of fans watching from left field during the Oakland A’s game against the Blue Jays in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, May 8, 2012. Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The Battle of the Bay is a rivalry full of irony. There have been some interesting, ironic contrasts between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics in the past few years. The rivalry isn’t as heated and competitive as the Giants-Dodgers rivalry, for example, but it has become intriguing because of these two teams’ records, the attendance at their stadiums, and their fans.

In 2010, the Giants went on a significant run in the last couple months of the season to steal the NL West from the San Diego Padres and sneak into the playoffs. They finished with a 92-70 record, and, as we know, the Giants won the World Series in 2010. The A’s finished the 2010 season with a 81-81 record, and they didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

In 2011, the Bay Area didn’t see great baseball from either team. The Giants went 86-76, but they didn’t qualify for the playoffs. The A’s went 74-88 and didn’t make the playoffs either.

Both teams started playing quality baseball again in 2012. The A’s went on an incredible run towards the end of the season, just like the Giants did in 2010. They stole the AL West title from the Texas Rangers and finished with a 94-68 record. They matched up with the Detroit Tigers in their divisional playoff series. They put up a good fight, but, unfortunately, lost the series 3-2.

May 29, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28, right) hits a single in front of home plate umpire Brian Knight (91) and Oakland Athletics catcher John Jaso (5, center) during the fifth inning at AT

The Giants also finished with a 94-68 record. They faced a total of six elimination games in the playoffs. After their torturous first two rounds of the playoffs, the Giants swept the Tigers to win their second World Series title in three seasons.

This brings us to the 2013 season. Here’s where the irony comes in. The Giants entered the 2013 season with a very similar roster to the one that earned them a World Series title last year. Despite that, they’ve had a disappointing 2013 season. They are currently 59-74 and 19 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. They have faced a multitude of injuries to some key players, but their problems extend way beyond that.

The A’s, on the other hand, have been doing well all season and currently have a 75-57 record. As of now, they are 2.5 games behind the Rangers in the AL West.

Despite playing quality baseball all season, A’s fans haven’t been showing up to games as much as they should be. Ironically, the A’s rank 25th in all of MLB in terms of average attendance this year. On average, only 22,766 A’s fans attend each game, which is just embarrassing given how well the team has played this season.

The Giants have never had trouble getting fans to attend games, even this season when they’ve played so poorly. The Giants rank third in MLB with an average of 41,655 fans attending each game.

Part of this discrepancy in attendance is due to the fact that the A’s have one of the oldest, most run-down stadiums in all of MLB. The A’s have had several issues with O.co Coliseum over the years, including the actual playing field, the tarp, sewage, etc.

May 29, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52, right) hits a RBI-triple to score center fielder Coco Crisp (4, not pictured) in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28, left) during the first inning at AT

In contrast, the Giants have arguably the best stadium in all of MLB. AT&T Park is constantly rated one of the best stadiums in MLB because of its picturesque views and certain attractions within the park like the Coca-Cola bottle and the giant glove.

In addition to how these two teams have played on the field in the past few years, there have been some interesting contrasts off the field too. It seems as if most A’s fans strongly dislike the Giants and their fans. Whereas, it seems as if many Giants fans don’t have a strong opinion of A’s fans. With that being said, some Giants and A’s fans are fans of both teams or just view it as a friendly rivalry.

Personally, I don’t hate the A’s or their fans. I find that some A’s fans can be overly bitter towards Giants fans though. However, I believe that A’s fans mostly dislike the bandwagon Giants fans, who became fans when the Giants started winning in 2010 or 2012 and aren’t quite as knowledgeable and dedicated as diehard fans. I don’t blame them for being bothered by bandwagon Giants fans, but they must recognize that not all Giants fans are bandwagon fans.

One of my best friends is an A’s fan. She’s taught me a lot about the A’s and their fans, and, I have to admit, she’s changed my opinion of their organization as a whole. I have a greater appreciation now for the team and their fans. Not that I used to hate the A’s, but I certainly thought the Giants were superior, mostly because I was born a Giants fan.

My friend and I are diehard, lifelong fans of our respective teams, but our friendship proves that we can still appreciate the other person’s passion for their team, even if we disagree or dislike the other team. I respect her love of the A’s, because she’s been a fan her whole life. If you are a lifelong fan of a team, I respect you, no matter what team you’re rooting for. Ok, maybe except if you’re a Dodger fan.

As with any rivalry though, no matter how intense it is, I do believe that Bay Area fans should be fans of one team or the other. I personally don’t understand how some people can be fans of both teams. There can be respect for the other team, but that’s not the same as being a fan of the team.

I would possibly root for the A’s in the playoffs against another AL opponent. However, if they make it to the World Series, I will most likely root for the NL team, except if it’s an NL West rival. If the A’s and the Giants ever played each other in the World Series, I wouldn’t say, “I’ll be happy with whoever wins, because I’m just happy that a Bay Area team will win.” No way.

I bleed orange and black. Although I have a greater appreciation for the green and gold than I used to, I will continue to be a diehard Giants fan for the rest of my life, no matter what their record is.

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Golden State Warriors: How Klay Thompson Can Become an Elite Defender

Nov 19, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks shooting guard O.J. Mayo (32) drives to the basket as Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) defends during the second quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Klay Thompson is an underrated defender. All Warriors fans know that he’s a great shooter; he’s a Splash Brother for a reason. One of the highlights of Thompson’s sophomore season, though, was his improvement on the defensive end.

Thompson might not have the astute instincts on defense that great defenders like Andre Iguodala or Tony Allen have, but he has learned to use certain qualitites to his advantage. First of all, he is a versatile defender. He has the ability to guard point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards.

Second, he can guard pick-and-rolls well, which is a valuable skill for a shooting guard. Thompson has shown the ability to effectively stop his opponent from driving or kicking off of a pick-and-roll. According to Chris Palmer of ESPN.com, among players with at least 200 possessions guarding the ball handler in pick-and-rolls, Thompson gave up the fewest points per possession last season, with 0.686. In order to compare, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers was named to the 2013 All-Defensive Second Team, and he gave up 0.783 points per possession.

Third, he has quick reactions and can move his lower body quickly. He moves his feet quickly and can keep his opponent in front of him. This benefits his teammates, because then he doesn’t need other help defenders to slide over, which would expose the paint or the basket. His quickness also allows him to guard smaller players, such as point guards, effectively. He proved this in the playoffs when he hounded Tony Parker and Ty Lawson and disrupted their rhythm.

Lastly, he uses his size and length to his advantage. His 6-foot-7 frame allows him to be physical, force tough shots, and do hard, quick close-outs. Thompson uses his length to guard bigger shooting guards or small forwards.

Thompson still has room for improvement though. First of all, he can learn to limit his fouls. Sometimes, he can be too aggressive on defense, which leads to him reaching in or shoving too much.

In Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs, Thompson fouled out with 3:57 left in the fourth quarter. At that point, the Warriors were up by 16 points, and Thompson had held Parker to 12 points on just 4-of-15 shooting. After he fouled out, Parker scored six points on 3-of-3 shooting, and the Spurs went on an 18-2 run to send the game to overtime. Thompson needs to limit his fouls next season in order to stay on the floor for the significant moments during games.

Second, he can work on blocking more shots. Last season, Thompson only blocked 0.5 shots per game, and, in the postseason, he only blocked 0.6 shots per game. The next step for him is translating his impressive size and length into more blocked shots.

Third, he can rebound more. During defensive possessions, he could bring more intensity on the glass. Great rebounders simply want the ball more than everyone else, regardless of their size.

Again, because of advantageous size for a shooting guard, Thompson should be able to average around five or more rebounds per game. In the 2012-2013 regular season, Thompson averaged 3.7 rebounds per game, and, in the postseason, he averaged 4.6 rebounds per game. Thompson should rebound around the same amount or more, given his height, as other shooting guards such as Kobe Bryant, who averaged 5.6 last season, James Harden, who averaged 4.9, or Dwyane Wade, who averaged 5.0.

Lastly, Thompson can improve on his help defense. His one-on-one defense already improved significantly last season, but, this offseason, he should focus more on his help defense. A great defender is able to not just contain the player they’re guarding, but also clog passing lanes and anticipate plays. By doing this, Thompson will be able to get more steals and force more turnovers, which will help make him an elite defender.

Thankfully for Thompson, there’s another versatile defender on the Warriors that he can learn from. Iguodala is quick and has good length too. Iguodala is an elite defender in the NBA, so Thompson should try to learn as much from him as possible in order to become a better overall defender.

If Thompson improves on limiting his fouls, blocking more shots, rebounding more, and helping more on defense, then he could potentially become an elite defender in the NBA. This would certainly help bring the Warriors to a whole new level defensively too. Defensively, the sky is the limit for Thompson.

San Francisco Giants: Is Brandon Belt Really Their First Baseman of the Future?

June 25, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (9) celebrates after scoring a run in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Brandon Belt has always had an enormous amount of potential. Offensively, he has power, a good eye, and an ability to find ways to get on base. Defensively, Belt has been the strongest first baseman in the the Giants’ farm system.

After being drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants, he rose quickly through the Giants’ system and played at three different levels of minor league baseball in 2010. Belt was brought up to San Francisco in 2011 but was sent back and forth between the Giants and their AAA team, the Fresno Grizzlies, several times.

Belt has always had to compete for his starts and his at-bats, whether it be against Aubrey Huff or Brett Pill. After struggling in the beginning of last season, Belt secured his starting role and had a quality second half when he hit .293 and had a .362 OBP.

This year was the first time in his career that he knew going into the season that he was the Giants’ everyday first baseman. Despite knowing this, Belt’s stats have been up and down all season. He started off the season slowly by only hitting .235 in April. He improved slightly in May when he hit .266 and improved a little more in June when he hit .289. Then he only hit .225 in July.

However, Belt has had an incredible August. He’s currently hitting .379 with five home runs and 11 RBI’s, and he has a .463 OBP, a .776 slugging percentage, and a 1.239 OPS, which ranks first among all NL first basemen in August. Also, Belt ranks fourth in the NL with a .822 OPS for the whole season, only behind Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, and Freddie Freeman.

Throughout his career, Belt has been labeled as “too good for the minors but too inconsistent in the big leagues.” So where does that leave him on this Giants team? Is he truly their first baseman of the future?

Even though he’s been inconsistent throughout his short career, Belt has made a big statement to the Giants and their fans this August. He’s hitting the ball extremely well right now, and, as always, he’s playing stellar first base.

However, this isn’t the big statement that he’s made. Belt has shown that he is willing to make adjustments for the betterment of the team, and that is the type of player that the Giants will want for the future.

Belt has had to make adjustments his whole career. He’s made several minor tweaks to his swing over the years, in order to find that same consistency and dominance that he displayed in the minor leagues.

The Giants have tried many times to make more permanent, drastic adjustments to the basic mechanics of his swing, but, for the most part, Belt has stuck with the same swing that he used in the minors.

“I was stubborn in the sense that I had had success a certain way before, and I was assuming I could get back to being successful that way,” Belt said.

Belt’s reluctance to alter his swing wasn’t because he wasn’t willing to change. He has had a lot thrown at him during his time with the Giants, and many people forget that he’s still developing as a major league hitter. Adjusting the swing that a player has used his entire life and has had success with is a lot to ask of a young player. He is a true professional, and he wants what’s best for the team.

The Giants know that Belt has potential to be a serious middle-of-the-order threat given his power and high OBP. That’s why they wanted Belt to adjust his swing recently, in order to help themselves in the future but to also help Belt have a more prominent career.

Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens found a way to “convince” Belt that a new grip would help him reach his potential. Meulens saw this same adjustment made by a similar player in style to Belt, Domonic Brown of the Philadelphia Phillies. Both of these players are 25 years-old, they’re both 6-foot-5, they’re both left-handed hitters, and they were both top prospects.

May 14, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (9) hits a home run in the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Brown changed his grip on the bat recently, and he has had a breakout season because of it. He’s hitting .277 with 27 home runs and 78 RBI’s, and he was selected to be a 2013 NL All-Star. Brown told Meulens that this change of grip only took him a few days to fully adjust to, which was appealing to Belt that it wasn’t a major adjustment.

After consulting other Giants such as Buster Posey, Belt decided to try out the new, looser grip. Bruce Bochy also noticed that Belt was moving up in the batter’s box in anticipation of hitting the ball. In order to address this, Belt now positions himself further back in the batter’s box, which allows him to see the pitches longer.

Clearly, based on his statistics from August, the adjustment has paid off.

“I want to make the jump,” Belt said. “I didn’t want to keep spinning my wheels in the same spot. I knew there was more in there. I just went all-in on these changes, and it’s working so far.”

Yes, Belt has made adjustments before, and he has had hot streaks after making adjustments before. This time is different though. He knows he is the Giants’ everyday first baseman. He’s not making adjustments in order to gain an edge over someone. He already has that edge.

In a way, he’s already proven that he’s a quality first baseman. He was the Giants’ starting first baseman when they won the World Series last year.

Belt must search for consistency though. If he’s able to consistently apply his new grip to his hitting, Belt could finish this season strong and potentially have a breakout season next year.

Yes, his development has possibly been rushed, which could be a significant contributor to his inconsistency. Also, given the amount of changes he’s had to endure over his short career has most likely messed with his confidence at times.

However, he’s shown that he is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. Now, the Giants just have to trust in his ability.

“He continues to learn as a hitter, and the better hitter he becomes, the more power you’re going to see,” Brian Sabean said. “And he’s very much on the path to being a Gold Glove first baseman. The sky’s the limit for him.”

Sabean believes that Brandon Belt is the Giants’ first baseman of the future. Now it’s Belt’s turn to believe it.

Stephen Curry vs Russell Westbrook and the Other Intriguing Warriors vs Thunder Matchups for 2013-14

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Let’s Go Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder will most likely be two of the top-four teams in the Western Conference this upcoming season. Here are five of the most intriguing matchups between these two teams:

1. Stephen Curry vs. Russell Westbrook

Curry and Westbrook are arguably two of the best point guards in the league. However, they play completely differently. We all know that Curry is one of the best shooters in the NBA. He shot an incredible 45.3 percent from three last season, and he can score in many different ways. He’s also one of the best and most creative passers in the league.

Westbrook is one of the most athletic players in the NBA. He’s incredibly quick, and he can beat anyone in transition and in the half court. He might have a questionable shot selection sometimes, but he’s a strong finisher and can beat anyone into the paint.

This matchup of pure shooting versus extreme speed and athleticism will surely be an intriguing one this upcoming season.

2. Harrison Barnes vs. Kevin Durant

Speaking of athletic, Barnes proved many critics wrong last season by displaying his explosiveness and athleticism. Barnes became one of the Warriors’ most exciting players because of his insane dunking ability. Just ask Nikola Pekovic, Anthony Randolph, or Ersan Ilyasova.

Durant can score in so many different ways. He attacks the rim, but he also has a smooth shooting stroke. It will be quite the matchup to see one of the most promising small forwards in the NBA, Barnes, go up against one of the best small forwards right now, Durant.

3. Andre Iguodala vs. Kevin Durant

Iguodala is also extremely athletic and can score in many different ways, just like Durant. He slashes to the rim, but he can also spread the floor and shoot threes. In addition, he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, so seeing him going up against Durant, offensively and defensively, will certainly be fun to watch.

4. Klay Thompson vs. Kevin Durant

Thompson isn’t quite the athletic, all-around scorer that Durant or Iguodala is, but he’s arguably one of the best three-point shooters in the league, just like his backcourt teammate. This Splash Brother shot 40.1 percent from three last season, and he’s been working on driving to the basket more. He also has shown much improvement on the defensive end. He’s not quite the defender that Iguodala is, but he showed in the playoffs that he can effectively guard smaller guards, such as Ty Lawson or Tony Parker. When the Warriors go small, it will be interesting to see him guard a larger, longer small forward like Durant.

5. David Lee vs. Serge Ibaka

This will be a fun matchup to watch when the Warriors are on offense. Lee is criticized a lot for his defensive deficiencies, but he is extremely skilled offensively. He can post up, shoot the mid-range shot, and he’s a great passer for a power forward.

On the other side, Ibaka is a beast defensively. He led the NBA last season in blocks per game with 3.03, and he was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for a second consecutive season this year. Ibaka uses his athleticism and his long wingspan to disrupt players in the paint. This matchup, featuring Lee’s offensive abilities and Ibaka’s stellar defense, will certainly be an entertaining one.

San Francisco Giants: Should They Call Up Gary Brown and Heath Hembree?

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Gary Brown and Heath Hembree (Kyle Terada / USA TODAY Sports)

The San Francisco Giants are starting to focus on the future.

They currently have a 52-65 record, are 15.5 games back from the Los Angeles Dodgers, and are in last place in the NL West. Based on their disappointing season, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy will perhaps decide soon to play their regular players less and call up more players from AAA, such as Gary Brown and Heath Hembree, to see who could possibly contribute to the team during the 2014 season.

However, the Giants are not in complete rebuild mode, since they already have several valuable pieces on their roster who can contribute next season. The Giants have to finish this year strong. If they completely give up now, they will have no momentum whatsoever going into the offseason and going into next season.

Also, Sabean wants to be cautious with rushing players’ development. He said recently that the Giants might have rushed Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford too quickly throughout the minor leagues. He said this might be the reason why they have taken more time to develop as hitters.

Because of this, it seems rather unlikely that Sabean will call up Brown or Hembree soon. When the rosters expand in September, the Giants could easily decide to call them up. For now though, the Giants want to stick to the group that they have, especially because their current roster is very similar to the roster that won the World Series last year.

Besides getting a closer look at some of their prospects, the Giants don’t have a lot of reason to call up Brown and Hembree now based on their performances this year.

Brown has had a disappointing 2013 season. The center fielder currently has a .228 average, 12 home runs, 46 RBI’s, a .286 OBP, and a .384 slugging percentage. He also has 13 stolen bases, but he’s been caught 10 times.

Brown had a promising year in Richmond in 2012 when he hit .279, had a .347 OBP, and had 33 stolen bases. After such a strong year, the Giants have certainly been tracking his progress this year in AAA to see if he should be called up.

However, Brown started off the 2013 season struggling, as he hit .180 in April and .248 in May. After a promising June when he hit .278, Brown has continued to struggle, as he hit .233 in July and .128 in August.

The Giants are in dire need of some help in the outfield and the leadoff spot, but Brown is not the answer, right now at least. He has a low OBP this year, and he hasn’t had success stealing bases.

They could also use his right-handed bat off the bench to hit left-handed pitching, since Jeff Francoeur has not been productive and Joaquin Arias has been injured off and on this season. However, Brown has struggled against left-handed pitchers though, as he’s only hit .247 off them this season. He hasn’t hit right-handed pitchers well either, as he has hit .223 against them this season.

The Giants have also struggled all season with clutch hitting, which hasn’t exactly been a strength of Brown’s this season either. He’s hit only .205 with runners in scoring position so far.

Mar 11, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Heath Hembree (72) pitches during the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

As for Heath Hembree, he has had a fairly disappointing season in Fresno also. The right-hander currently has a 4.15 ERA with 26 saves in 47.2 innings pitched. He has struck out 58, but he has allowed 47 hits and given up 15 walks.

Hembree got off to a hot start, as he had a 2.19 ERA and seven saves in 12 games in April. However, he had a dreadful May and June when he had a 5.73 ERA with six saves in 11 games and then a 7.84 ERA with only three saves in nine games. He has bounced back relatively well though. He had a 2.53 ERA in July with seven saves in 11 games, and, so far, he’s had a 0.00 ERA with three saves in four games in August.

Hembree has been an intriguing prospect for the Giants. He’s shown that he’s a promising closer, but he still needs more time to develop. He has a 2.60 ERA against right-handers, but he has a 6.30 ERA against left-handers. He also has a 6.75 ERA with runners in scoring position, which is unacceptable for a closer.

There is a strong possibility that when the rosters expand in September that Brown and Hembree could be called up. However, before then, it doesn’t make much sense for the Giants to rush their development.

They’d much rather stick to the players that rode them to their second World Series title in three years, even if making the playoffs is impossible. The Giants are a loyal organization, and they want this group to finish out this season strong.

How Do the Los Angeles Clippers Match Up with the Golden State Warriors?

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This article was originally published on Let’s Go Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers are the best teams in the Pacific Division. The Los Angeles Lakers have been the kings of the division in recent history, but with their disappointing season last year and the departure of Dwight Howard, the Warriors and the Clippers will compete for the division title in the 2013-2014 season.

The Warriors have not won the division since the 1975-1976 season. The Clippers won their first division title ever last season. The Clippers were championship contenders last season, but they lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. We all know about the Warriors’ miraculous playoff run last season that almost took them to the Western Conference Finals.

Not only are these two teams the best in the Pacific Division, but they are going to compete for two of the top four spots in the Western Conference. Both of these teams have aspirations for having home court advantage in the playoffs this upcoming season, so their games against each other will be significant.

Last season, the Warriors won the season series against the Clippers 3-1. The Warriors won the first game against them in Los Angeles 114-110, when Stephen Curry drew a huge charge against Chris Paul at the end of the game. The Warriors blew the Clippers out in their second matchup, at Oracle Arena, 115-94. They played again a few days later in Los Angeles, and the Clippers returned the favor and beat the Warriors 115-89. The Warriors then won the last matchup against them 106-99.

This upcoming season, the Warriors play the Clippers four times. Their first matchup is in Los Angeles, and it’s the second game of the season for the Warriors. The next game is on Christmas Day at Oracle Arena. The next matchup is also at Oracle at the end of January, and the last game is on March 12th in Los Angeles.

Both teams have had excellent offseasons so far. The Warriors have progressed a lot by adding Andre Iguodala, Toney Douglas, Marreese Speights, Jermaine O’Neal, and Nemanja Nedovic. They have a deep roster this year, and, arguably, the best starting five in the NBA.

The Clippers have also had an active offseason. First of all, they now have a head coach who knows how to win championships, Doc Rivers. Unlike Vinny Del Negro, Rivers is one of the best coaches in the NBA, and he’s a proven defensive specialist. The Clippers were a talented team last season, but Del Negro really held them back based on his poor coaching.

Also, in the offseason, the Clippers have added Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, Byron Mullens, and J.J. Reddick. The Clippers have added more shooters to their roster, and they’re certainly a deep team.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In terms of rosters, both teams are stacked with talent. The Warriors are, obviously, led by Curry, but they also have some intriguing young players such as Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. They also have a 2012 Western Conference All-Star in David Lee, and they have their dominant inside presence in Andrew Bogut. The addition of Iguodala certainly made them one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

The Clippers are led by All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and they also have other solid contributors in Jamal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan, Matt Barnes, and Lamar Odom. The Clippers added some solid pieces to their bench also.

In terms of defense, the Warriors were a much improved defensive squad last season and held opponents to just 43.9 percent shooting, which ranked fourth in the NBA. They also averaged 45.0 rebounds per game, which tied for second in the NBA. If Bogut can stay healthy for the majority of the season and with the additions of Iguodala, Douglas, Speights, and O’Neal, the Warriors are only going to become a better defensive team.

The Clippers are more known for their offense than their defense, but they only allowed 94.6 points per game, which ranked fourth in the NBA. Paul also led the NBA in steals per game with 2.41.

The Warriors scored the seventh most points per game last season with 101.2, and the Clippers weren’t far behind with 101.1 points per game, which tied for eighth most in the NBA. The Clippers scored more efficiently though, as they shot 47.8 percent from the field last season, which ranked fourth in the NBA. The Warriors shot 45.8 percent from the field last season, which ranked 11th in the NBA.

The Warriors and the Clippers match up pretty well, categorically. In the past couple years, the Clippers have been closer to a championship contending team than the Warriors have been, but this season that might change. The Warriors have made some significant, bold moves this offseason that might have propelled them past their Pacific Division rival. Regardless of which team wins the division this upcoming season, it’s guaranteed that their rivalry will continue to grow and their games will be entertaining.

San Francisco Giants: Their 3 Biggest Struggles This Season

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Jul 30, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito (75) wipes the sweat off his head during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Giants 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

After winning two World Series titles in three years, the San Francisco Giants have been extremely disappointing this season. They currently have a 50-63 record and are 13 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West. Although it’s almost impossible that they will make the playoffs, the Giants are always going to believe that they can come back. They have a “never say die” attitude that rode them to a World Series title last season.

However, if they want to even attempt to make a comeback, or at least just finish out the season strong, they will have to be more consistent in several areas of their game. Here are three of those areas: