In what was a very emotional day for the Clipper organization and players as they started the day not knowing if they were either going to play that night or walkout to make a stand, to the elation of knowing that Sterling was banned from the NBA, to having to play that night against a team that just blew them out two days prior. However, from the pre-game shoot around to the final buzzer the crowd was emotionally electric and the players fed off of that throughout the game. But, it too was an emotionally draining day for the Clippers and Doc Rivers is aware it will be hard to bounce back.
"They have 48 more hours to try to gather themselves some more. This was such an emotional game that we have to worry about the next game and can they have it."
Now in roughly 24 hours they have to go up to Oakland and play the Warriors in Oracle Arena, one of the toughest venues to play in and where the Clippers have not had much success these past few seasons. They are going to have to quickly re-energize themselves and try to move past Tuesday's events and return all their focus squarely on basketball and eliminating the Warriors.
Heading into Game 6, the Clippers need to make some minor adjustments and take the momentum from last night's game into this one. First, Blake Griffin needs to continue to attack the basket and use his athleticism and strength to get past his defenders. He has the size and prowess to bully his way into the lane on most of the Warrior players, but as seen in last game he has a tough time with Jermaine O'neal. He needs to capitalize on his youthful legs and talent to get around O'neal who is showing flashes of his all-star seasons. Griffin also needs to stay out of foul trouble going into Oracle as the Clippers will desperately need his production and energy to push the tempo when the Warriors go big.
Second, DeAndre Jordan needs to carry the energy from last game into this one on both ends of the floor. The real star in last night's game was Jordan who was fighting and diving for every loose ball, while protecting the rim from the Warriors driving to the basket and preventing easy lay-up opportunities. He and Griffin also need to make Mark Jackson regret going to a smaller lineup by crashing the offensive boards and force him to go to a more conventional lineup where the Warriors are not as potent offensively.
Third, the bench needs to step up as Hedo Turkoglu went down last game with a lower back contusion. Of course, this means more pressure on the 6th Man of the Year, Jamal Crawford, to continue his high level of play, but also means that the frontcourt bench players need to rally. The depth in the frountcourt of Glen Davis and Danny Granger has not produced all that much, aside from the Game 2 blowout, and those two guys, with the probably addition of Ryan Hollins, needs to alleviate at least some of the burden off the starters.
Game 6 has the potential to be a classic as the Clippers try to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals and the Warriors try to stave-off elimination. Either way expect both teams to leave everything on the court in what should be a high-flying, hard-hitting, emotion filled affair.