Game Preview: Warriors Looking To Send The Series Back To LA
The focus is slowly shifting to solely basketball in this series. After all the Sterling fiasco, the Clippers went into Game 5 and delivered a win for the home town fans. While the Sterling situation is far from over, both teams have to turn all their attention to this series. The Warriors are now down 3-2 in the series and on the brink of elimination.
The Warriors are coming home to Oracle Arena for Game 6 and the Clippers will have to battle through a hostile environment. However, the Clippers are still favored to win this game, even though they have lost 16 of their last 19 games in Oakland. The injury of Andrew Bogut diminished the Warriors’ chances, but they are still more than capable of winning this series. While the Warriors were not blown out in Game 5, their effort was lackluster. The Warriors will need more passion and energy if they want a chance at a Game 7 and advanced to next round of the playoffs.
Players To Watch
Chris Paul: He is the Clippers’ leader and is arguably one of the top point guards in the NBA. Paul can impact the game in so many ways. With the ball in his hands he can either knock down the jumper or take you to the hole, but he is most effective when he gets his teammates involved. According to State Farm Paul was born to assist, he is averaging 10.7 assists during the regular season. However, the facet of his game that is not drawing any attention in this series is his defense. Paul has bothered Curry all series long and he is averaging 3.4 steals per game, which is higher than his regular season average. Paul is the catalyst on both sides of the floor and he has not had much postseason success in the past, so look for him to be really aggressive tonight
DeAndre Jordan: Can Jordan repeat his 25 points and 18 rebound performance in Game 5? It’s unlikely, but he is capable of heavily impacting the game that might now show on the stat sheet. Most of Jordan’s points come from close range, which is why he is in the top five in the NBA in field goal percentage this season. Jordan gets a lot lobs and easy dunks and that is why Bogut is missed dearly in this series. Jordan is a rebounding machine and gives his team valuable second chance opportunities, so look for him to continue to excel tonight and moving forward in this postseason. The Warriors’ best bet is to send him to the line. Jordan shoots a dismal 43 percent from the charity strike, so applying the “Hack-a-Jordan” might be a good idea.
Darren Collison and Jamal Crawford: Coming out of UCLA after four years under Ben Howland, Collison is a great on ball defender. He is very quick and capable of bothering Curry enough to alter his shot. Collison can also score the rock, he posted 15 points in 24 minutes played in Game 5. His defense is his strong point and he will surely have the task to defend Curry when Paul gets a breather. Crawford’s strong point is putting the ball in the hole and he does not shy away from it. The 34 year old is averaging 15.2 points this series, but he only averages about 23 minutes per game, so his numbers can fly under the radar. In Game 4, Crawford had 26 points and he has the ability to take over the game offensively at any given time. The Warriors must continue to focus on taming Crawford and force him to take bad shots.
Keys To A Victory
Stephen Curry: No surprise here, the Warriors will go as far as Steph Curry takes them. Taking 10 shots in a playoff game is simply not going to cut it. The Warriors lost by 10 in Game 5 and that was with Curry only scoring 17 points. While he is being bothered by Paul and Collison, that is no excuse. Curry must lead his team and carry them on his back. Curry is on the brink of becoming one of the elite players in the NBA, but before he can join the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant, he must perform in the postseason. Curry cannot do it all on his own, but he must inspire his teammates with his play on the floor. Curry needs an amazing performance tonight if they want to play in a Game 7.
Make The 3 Ball: This has been the most important stat for the Warriors in all of their games in this series. The Warriors had the fourth highest three point shooting percentage during the regular season at 38 percent. If the Warriors can shoot close to that mark or beyond it, then they will have a great chance to win this game. During the postseason the Warriors have not been as effective, only shooting 34 percent, which is the 10th best in these playoffs. Thompson and Curry have to get it going, but Steve Blake, Harrison Barnes, and Andre Iguodala must knock down some long range shots as well.
Don’t Look Ahead: Game 6 will be at Oracle Arena with all of the city behind the Warriors, but if there is a Game 7, then they have to go back to Los Angeles. The Warriors cannot be looking ahead to Game 7. They must first take care of business here at home and then turn their attention to a final game at the Staples Center. The Clippers might be relieved to be on the road and they will be coming in for the kill tonight, so the Warriors must solely focus on executing their game plan. The Warriors have already proven that they are capable of going to Los Angeles and win on their floor, but before they can get another crack at it, they must get the win in Game 6.
L.A. Clippers (3) at Golden State Warriors (6)
7:30 p.m. PST, May 1, 2014
Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Series: Clippers Lead 3-2