Game Preview: Crucial Game 5 Must Be Played Amidst The Sterling Situation
This morning, the NBA has finally officially ruled on the Donald Sterling situation. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver did not waste any time and brought the hammer down. Sterling is banned for life from the NBA and received the maximum fine of $2.5 million. Silver did not stop there, he also will push the other NBA owners to vote in favor of forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers. Silver needs 3/4 of the owners to vote in favor for it to take effect.
This Sterling fiasco has really taken away from this series, but the games must go on. With the ruling coming today from the NBA, this game figures to be very emotional for both the Clippers and the hometown fans. Prior to the announcement from the NBA, no one knew what to expect in Game 5, but now the Clippers could play the game knowing justice was served. The Warriors are going to need to focus on taming an extra emotional Clippers team who will feeding off the Staples Center crowd.
Now, let’s move on to the actual basketball part of this series. The series is tied at 2 a piece and the winner of Game 5 goes on to win around 86 percent of the time. The Clippers are favored by seven points, so the Warriors once again will have to go into Staples with the underdog mentality and steal another game on their court. The last time the Warriors were at Staples Center they were blown out by 40 points in Game 2, so this is a good time for some redemption for Curry and company.
Players To Watch
Chris Paul: As the leader of the Clippers, they will only go as far as he takes them. Paul will be looking to get his teammates involved early to help them focus solely on basketball. Commissioner Silver’s announcement somewhat lifts some pressure from the Clippers and the organization, so expect them to play loose and with a lot of emotion. Paul is a fiery competitor and he will make sure his teammates are ready to compete in Game 5. Paul only scored 16 points and had 6 assists in Game 4, so he will be much more aggressive tonight.
Blake Griffin: In 36 minuted played in Game 4, Griffin actually played really well. He scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds in the Game 4 loss. Griffin was very effective, he shot 8 for 14 from the floor, but like the rest of his teammates he looked distracted. Griffin is probably the most emotional player on the Clippers’ roster, so expect him to come out firing on all cylinders. Griffin was primed to dominate this series with the injury to Andrew Bogut, but the pressure is on the 25 year old. The playoffs can either make you or break you, for the Warriors sake let’s hope it’s the latter.
DeAndre Jordan: Speaking of emotional players, Jordan is feeds off the crowd more than anyone else. He was one of the only players to speak out on the Sterling subject in social media. Surely Jordan wanted to say much more on the matter, but tonight will be a great opportunity for him to release all his frustration. After grabbing 22 rebounds in Game 3, he only recorded six in Game 4 and had no points. Look for Jordan to be active early on both ends of the court. With the Warriors so concerned about Griffin, the lane opens up for Jordan and with his athleticism and 6’11” frame, he is somebody the Warriors must keep an eye on.
Keys To A Victory
Drain Three Point Shots: This series is tied at 2, but it could be much worse for the Warriors. In their two losses this series, the Warriors did not shoot it well from beyond the arc. The Warriors shot close to 20 percent in their two losses, but shot closer to 40 percent in both of their victories. If the Warriors want to leave Los Angeles leading 3-2, then they will have to make it splash at the Staples Center tonight. It all starts with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, but the rest of the squad needs to knock down those three pointers as well.
Go Small: The Warriors are at an advantage when they put a small lineup on the floor. As effective as Griffin and Jordan can be on the paint, they become a liability when it comes to defending the perimeter. The Warriors need to spread it out and make the Clippers adjust to their style of play. By doing so the Warriors could put themselves at a disadvantage on the defensive end, but they simply do not have another option at this point. If the Warriors are able to knock down some shots early, then Doc Rivers will be forced to adjust to the smaller lineup. By doing so the Warriors eliminate the size advantage down low and the Clippers will have to slow down one of the best backcourts in the NBA with no rim protector in the middle.
Focus: Game 5 is already going to go down as one of the most memorable games in NBA history, but not because of the basketball that was played. This is much bigger than any game because it deals with issues that are affecting our country to this day. With all that being said, the Staples Center crowd should be rocking all night, especially after the NBA’s ruling on Sterling. The Warriors must be able to ride the wave of emotions that will be happening in Los Angeles tonight. The Clippers are expected to come out strong and play with a lot of passion, so the Warriors must be prepared for that. The last few days has been an embarrassment for this franchise and the Clippers want to give their fans something to be proud of. The Warriors must open up with a lot of energy themselves and remain focused on the ultimate prize, which starts with a win here in Game 5.
Golden State Warriors (6) at L.A. Clippers (3)
7:30 p.m. PST, April 29, 2014
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Series: Tied at 2-2