Round 1, Game 7 Clippers-Warriors preview: All the marbles

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers and the Warriors first round series has come down to Game 7. The winner moves on to the second round -- the season is over for the loser.

2014 NBA Playoffs
First Round
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vs
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57-25

51-31
Game 7 - May 3rd, 2014, 7:30 PM
STAPLES Center
TNT, Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Series Schedule
The series is tied 3-3
Game 1 - Sat April 19 in Los Angeles,  Warriors 109-Clippers 105
Game 2 - Mon April 21 in Los Angeles, Clippers 138-Warriors 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 in Los Angeles, Clippers 113-Warriors 103
Game 6 - Thu May 1 in Oakland, Warriors 100-Clippers 99
Game 7 - Sat May 3, 7:30 PM, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
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
Jared Dudley SF Harrison Barnes
Danny Granger 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
Hedo Turkoglu (back) out
Andrew Bogut (broken rib) out


Festus Ezeli (knee surgery) out


Jermaine O'Neal (knee) probable

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:

Other than the fact that it has been close, the Clippers first round series with the Warriors has not been at all what I expected. Blake Griffin has fouled out of two Clipper losses; a third loss came amid the biggest controversy in the NBA in several years. But while Griffin had dominated games 2 and 3 and there seemed to be no answer for him, he's been shut down during games 5 and 6. Meanwhile, the Clippers have mostly kept Stephen Curry under wraps, and yet find themselves facing a Game 7, knowing full well that a Curry explosion could end their season. Home court certainly hasn't been infallible in the playoffs this year, but I'd still rather have it than not. After dropping Game 1 in STAPLES, the Clippers have won two in a row in the series and can move on to the second round with another win tonight. How healthy Chris Paul is for the game, and how effective he can be with a sore hamstring and two sore thumbs, remains to be seen. It's a Game 7, a big moment for big players. The Clippers two biggest players, Griffin and Paul, were both pretty mediocre in Game 6. They need to be better tonight.

The Antagonist:

The Warriors defense in Game 6, especially in the third quarter, was beyond impressive. Whether they can replicate the level of energy remains to be seen, but they were able to double team aggressively and still recover to shooters. Meanwhile, Golden State (and especially Draymond Green) seemed to get every loose ball. Doc Rivers said of Game 6 at practice on Friday that he thought both teams played poorly, but the Warriors played harder, and he's right. The Warriors will try to recreate that same energy, and if they can do that and get Steph Curry going, then they can certainly win this game.

The Subplots

  • Series preview. Be sure to revisit the series preview which contains some of the overarching points for the series. I won't repeat those points here.
  • West playoffs. Of the four first round series in the West three are going to seven games and the fourth one came within 0.9 seconds last night of doing so as well. There have been seven overtime games, several buzzer beaters, and many more games that came down to the final possession. We knew the West was good and competitive -- we didn't know it was this good!
  • Adjustments. In a seven game series, the adjustments you make from game to game can make all the difference. Since late in Game 3, the Warriors have been double teaming Blake Griffin more often and more aggressively. In Games 5 and especially 6, the double teams were incredibly effective. The Clippers certainly have the personnel and skills to handle the double team more effectively than they have been. But if they don't make the adjustment, their season could be over.
  • Rebounding. One thing that is not so much an adjustment as it is energy and roughness is protecting the defensive glass. The Warriors had 14 offensive rebounds in the first have of Game 6, which is just ridiculous. The Clippers absolutely must do a better job of limiting the Warriors to one shot and securing the defensive rebound if they want their season to continue.
  • O'Neal. Jermaine O'Neal, the veteran reserve center of the Warriors, missed the second half Game 6 with a sprained knee after Big Baby Davis of the Clippers fell into his knee going after a loose ball. the Warriors are already missing two centers, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli (who has been out all season). O'Neal says short of "the rapture" he'll play. O'Neal also says he's certain it was a dirty play from Davis. Jermaine O'Neal is kind of an idiot if he thinks that.
  • Foul trouble. Foul trouble has played a huge role in this series. Blake Griffin fouled out of Games 1 and 6 -- and the Clippers lost both of those games. Chris Paul was also in foul trouble in Game 6. Klay Thompson fouled out of Game 4, Andre Iguodala fouled out of Game 1, David Lee fouled out of Game 6 -- though strangely the Warriors won all those games. Even as the Warriors defense has bothered Griffin, their bigs have been picking up a lot of fouls defending him. It remains to be seen if foul trouble becomes a factor in Game 7, but it's been a factor in almost every other game in the series, so why should this be any different?
  • Game 7s. Although it would have been nice to close out the series in Game 6, the good news statistically is that the home team has won about 78% of all Game 7s in NBA history. Of course the Clippers were one of the teams that won on the road a couple of seasons ago.
  • Clipper Game 7s. The Clippers franchise has never played a Game 7 on its home court. In three Game 7s the team is 1-2, with the sole win coming two seasons ago in Memphis. In 2006 the Brand/Cassell Clippers lost to the Suns in Phoenix. In 1975 the Buffalo Braves lost a Game 7 to the Bullets in Washington.
  • Doc Game 7s. Doc Rivers' Boston Celtics team won two Game 7s in the first two rounds when they won the championship in 2008. Rivers told his players about that the first day of training camp -- although he says he doesn't remember doing so.
  • Chris Paul Game 7s. Chris Paul is 1-1 in Game 7s in his career. His Clippers team beat the Grizzlies two years ago, but his Hornets team lost to the Spurs in 2008.
  • 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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