It comes down to one game. Win and advance to next round of the playoffs, but lose and your vacation time start early. The Warriors have arguably over achieved in this series, nobody gave them a shot to win entering the playoffs. The loss of Andrew Bogut erased any possibility of the Warriors beating the Clippers, but here we are in Game 7.
The Warriors were able to extend this series by winning 100-99 in Game 6, but lost Jermaine O’Neal in the process. O’Neal status is still in doubt, but without the big man the Warriors lose a valuable body off the bench. After a series in which basketball came second to the Donald Sterling situation, one final game must be played to decide who advances to the next round. Both teams are unexperienced in the postseason, but the Clippers have played in a Game 7 recently.
The playoffs are where legends are made and the Warriors need a legendary performance from everyone in order to go into a hostile Staples Center crowd and eliminate the Clippers from the postseason.
Players To Watch
Chris Paul: Chris Paul has not had a big game this series and that might be due to some nagging injuries. In Game 6 he was bothered by his left hamstring and left hand. There is no doubt Paul will play in Game 7, but it will be interesting to see how effective he is tonight. Paul is a fiery competitor and he is capable of playing with pain through the pain and delivering a great performance. So far he is averaging 16.7 points and 8.2 assists in this series, both numbers below his season average.
Blake Griffin: With Paul’s health not at a 100 percent, expect Griffin to try and impose his will in Game 7. If Griffin has a big game and stays out of foul trouble, the Clippers will be in a really good spot to win this game. Griffin has been averaging 23.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in this series. In all of the Clippers losses Griffin has under performed, surely he will make sure he is effective in Game 7. If Griffin is overly aggressive, the Warriors could take advantage of that. Don’t expect the referees to call ticky tack fouls, so both teams should be able to play their game. With O’Neal hobbled up, expect Griffin to be eager and aggressive in the paint.
J.J. Redick: The guy can shoot lights out and could easily drop 20 points on any given night. He is averaging 13.3 points a game in the series and is shooting close to 40 percent from the three point line. However, in the last two games he has shot 2 for 13, which is unusual for the sharp shooter. Redick is due for a big game and in front of his home crowd he will be looking to leave his mark.
Keys To A Victory
Shoot The Rock Incredibly Well: This has been the main key to victory in all of the games in this series. While some teams can win a game even though they don’t shoot the ball well, the Warriors cannot afford a bad shooting night in Game 7. The Warriors are the underdog and have to go into their house to advance to the next round. If they want to win this ball game, not only do they have to shoot well beyond the arc, but everybody has to knock down some shots from all over the floor. The Clippers put up a lot of points and they love to get out in transition after missed jump-shots. The more the Warriors miss, the more the Clippers will run the floor with their potent transition offense.
Role Players Must Step Up: The Warriors are coming into Game 7 not at full strength but they’ve grown used to that. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala are expected to perform and put up big numbers, but the rest of the guys need to step it up. Draymond Green, Marreese Speights, and Harrison Barnes need to contribute more than usual if they plan on advancing to the next round. The Clippers are deep and could hurt you many different ways, so the Warriors’ role players must be ready to contribute on both ends of the court. This game could come down to the final possessions and an unlikely hero might be called to deliver late in the game.
Focus: One could argue that all the pressure is on the Clippers. While they do have the home court advantage, the Warriors have been counted out since the beginning of the series and now have an opportunity to eliminate the Clippers by winning Game 7. The Clippers are expected to advance and they have been distracted since the Sterling situation came to light. The Warriors must go into Staples focused and loose, knowing that they have nothing to lose by leaving it all on the court tonight.
Golden State Warriors (6) at L.A. Clippers (3)
7:30 p.m. PST, May 3, 2014
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Series: Tied at 3-3