NBA Playoffs Round 1 Game 5 Clippers-Warriors: A Brand New Day!

Thearon W. Henderson

The Clippers barely showed up to Game 4 against the Warriors in the midst of a firestorm of controversy over the racist comments of owner Donald Sterling. Will they be better in a crucial Game 5?

(Note: Steve wrote this preview before the announcement of the lifetime ban. I'm not gonna cut it up or change it, it's still relevant, other than the fact that, I think, judging by the mood of the fanbase and the buzz on Twitter, EVERYTHING in Clipperland has changed... for the better. Let's watch basketball! Go Clips! J. Raffo 4:39 pm.)

2014 NBA Playoffs
First Round
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vs
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57-25

51-31
Game 5 - April 29th, 2014, 7:30 PM
STAPLES Center
TNT, Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Series Schedule
The series is tied 2-2
Game 1 - Sat April 19 in Los Angeles,  Warriors 109-Clippers 105
Game 2 - Mon April 21 in Los Angeles, Clippers 138-Warri/ors 98
Game 3 - Thu April 24 in Oakland, Clippers 98-Warriors 96
Game 4 - Sun April 27 in Oakland, Warriors 118-Clippers 97
Game 5  Tue April 29, Time TBD, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
Game 6  Thu May 1, Time TBD, Oakland, ORACLE Arena
Game 7 * Sat May 3, Time TBD, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
* if necessary
Win-Loss Breakdown Regular Season
21-9 East 20-10
36-16 West 31-21
34-7 Home 27-14
23-18 Road 24-17
25-18 .500+ 19-25
32-7 .500- 32-6
7-3 L10 6-4
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Stephen Curry
J.J. Redick SG Klay Thompson
Matt Barnes SF Andre Iguodala
Blake Griffin PF Draymond Green
DeAndre Jordan C David Lee
Key Reserves
Darren Collison PG Steve Blake
Jamal Crawford SG Jordan Crawford
Danny Granger SF Harrison Barnes
Hedo Turkoglu PF Marreese Speights
Glen Davis C Jermaine O'Neal
Advanced Stats 2013-2014 Regular Season
98.39 (7th of 30) Pace 98.53 (6th of 30)
109.4 (1st of 30) ORtg 105.3 (12th of 30)
102.1 (7th of 30) DRtg 99.9 (3rd of 30)
Injuries/Other
None
Andrew Bogut (broken rib) out


Festus Ezeli (knee surgery) out

The Back Story (The teams split the regular season series 2-2):

Date Venue Final

10/31/13 Los Angeles Clippers 126, Warriors 115 Recap Box
12/25/13 Oakland Warriors 105, Clippers 103 Recap Box
01/30/14 Oakland Warriors 111, Clippers 92 Recap Box
03/12/14 Los Angeles Clippers 111, Warriors 98 Recap Box

The Big Picture:

I'd love to analyze the matchups in this series. I'd love to discuss the X's and O's of containing Stephen Curry, or how the smaller Warriors lineup does or does not represent a problem for the Clippers. But truth be told, all of that has taken a back seat. This series has been hijacked by the reprehensible behavior of their owner, Donald Sterling. What matters most -- and frankly, all other considerations are secondary -- is how the Clippers come out in Game 5. In Game 4 they were incredibly distracted, to the tune of blowing their coverages on 70 percent of the Warriors' possessions according to Doc Rivers. The Warriors shot a great percentage and hit a ton of threes -- but frankly, that's what happens when your defense is in disarray because your players heads aren't in the game. The last time these two teams played in Los Angeles the Clippers won by 40 -- that's a four and a zero. They can do that again if they can combine the energy and the focus they had back then. Whether they can actually do that given the current situation remains to be seen. One key element we can point to is DeAndre Jordan's role. He was the Clippers second most effective player in their two wins -- but he played just 25 minutes in Game 4. Did Doc Rivers overreact to Mark Jackson's decision to play small? Did he sense that DeAndre's head wasn't in the game? We don't know, but we do know that Jordan needs to play a major role in Game 5.

The Antagonist:

The Warriors won Game 4, and to their great relief they made a bunch of three pointers in the process. The Clippers had the best three point defense in the NBA in the regular season and held the Warriors perimeter shooters in check through three games of this series. But all the blown coverages in Game 4 left a lot of shooters wide open, and Golden State made the Clippers pay. Golden State is now 1-0 in the series with Draymond Green in the starting lineup and coach Mark Jackson will clearly return to that lineup tonight. Their win in Game 4 had a lot more to do with Sterling than it did with Green, but the Warriors will believe otherwise until proven wrong.

The Subplots

  • Series preview. Be sure to review the series preview which contains some of the overarching points for the series. I won't repeat those points here.
  • SoCal v. NorCal. The LA Kings tied their series with the San Jose Sharks last night, returning from an 0-3 hole to force a Game 7. There's clearly something about this North versus South thing in California -- judging from the number of fights in last night's Kings-Sharks game. The Clippers and the Warriors feel about the same. This is civil war.
  • Adam Silver. New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is in the middle of not just the biggest controversy of his three months on the job, but probably the biggest controversy since the Malice in the Palace. The NBA has announced a press conference at 11 AM PT Tuesday morning to announce a decision on sanctions against Sterling. How those sanctions are received may well be the single biggest factor in Game 5. If the Clipper players feel like the sanctions are nothing more than a slap on Sterling's wrist, this could end very badly for the Clippers.
  • #WeAreOne. Support the players and the team while making a statement against the scumbag owner by wearing black to the game. Imagine the visual imagery of an arena filled with black, not because some corporate sponsor handed out T-shirts, but because the fans decided to send a message. You own a black shirt: wear it. Tell everyone you know. Hell, take an extra black T-shirt with you and give it to the guy who didn't get the message. Give it to the Warriors fans who show up in yellow -- they'll wear it. Let's do this.
  • So close to redemption. The irony of Sterling's situation is that he was poised to be redeemed as a team owner. He'd been on his best behavior (relatively speaking) for about four years. And during that time, many NBA owners (Dan Gilbert, Robert Sarver, the Maloofs, etc.) drew negative attention to themselves, while a number of Los Angeles owners (the McCourts, the Busses) also suffered some seriously negative publicity. Sterling is the dean of NBA owners, he had his best team of all time, he was paying the luxury tax, and he'd kept his nose clean for several years. He's getting what he deserved of course -- he had a shot at a full blown rehabilitation, and frankly that would have been wrong.
  • Nothing more to say. Honestly, I have nothing more to say about this series. As if there weren't enough going on, the internet is down at my house and I'm writing this preview via the WiFi at a local sports bar. I'll have more to say after Silver's presser tomorrow. Until then, discuss among yourselves.
  • Connections. Clippers super sub Jamal Crawford spent most of a season in Oakland between his stints in New York and Atlanta. Matt Barnes really solidified himself as a viable NBA player on the We Believe Warriors of the 2007 playoffs. Steve Blake will spend the trade deadline to the end of the season with the Warriors this year, just as he did with the Clippers in 2010. Warriors coach Mark Jackson was a Clipper in the early 90s. The two coaches tonight were traded for each other back in 1992, with Rivers leaving and Jackson joining the Clippers. Harrison Barnes and Clippers rookie Reggie Bullock were teammates for a season at North Carolina when they were both freshman. The Clippers can thank the Warriors for DeAndre Jordan's current contract, as he signed an offer sheet with Golden State in 2011 which the Clippers matched.
  • Get the Warriors perspective at Golden State of Mind.
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