Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: 7:00 PM PT
How to watch: ESPN, Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Blog partner: Golden State of Mind
Projected Starting Lineups:
Warriors: Steph Curry – Klay Thompson – Kevin Durant – Draymond Green – Andrew Bogut
Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Landry Shamet – Pat Beverley – Danilo Gallinari – JaMychal Green
Warriors: DeMarcus Cousins Out (Quad), Damian Jones Out (Pectoral)
Clippers: No injuries
Warriors’ adjustments: The Warriors are up 3-2, have homecourt advantage, and still possess the greatest amount of talent of any team in the NBA. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t have changes to make, and the coaching staff no doubt agrees with me. The easiest thing the Warriors could do is bench Andrew Bogut for Kevon Looney, who has outplayed him by a large margin on both ends of the court this series. Looney is a threat to score around the rim, while Bogut is not, and he’s also a much quicker defensive player. I think the Warriors’ other main adjustment will be to get Steph Curry going earlier in the game: he’s been quiet the past couple games, and the Warriors are at their best when Steph is running their offense.
Clippers’ adjustments: The Clippers outplayed the Warriors most of Game 5, and a lot of that has to do with Doc Rivers’ adjustments. He started JaMychal Green, took Wilson Chandler out of the rotation, and got the Clippers to attack earlier in the shot clock. Doc has coached a great series, and the chess moves aren’t going to stop now. The rotation has already been shortened, but it might get slimmed down even more: Jerome Robinson played just 6 minutes in Game 5, and while he wasn’t awful, he also didn’t do much positive either, outside of a nice offensive rebound and kickout. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Garrett Temple didn’t receive that many minutes in Game 5, and it makes sense for Jerome’s minutes to go to those two instead. There also remains the matter of Danilo Gallinari, who played much better in Game 5, but still struggled to start and end the game. The Clippers need him to have another strong game, and it will be important to get him going early. Finally, the Clippers must expect an outburst from Steph Curry. While the Warriors have gone to Kevin Durant early and often in the past few games, and the Clippers’ defense has to some extent desired that, they know he can get going at any time. Just as the Warriors will try to get Steph involved early, the Clippers must counter and prevent his catching fire.
Lou and Trez, dominant: In the two games the Clippers have won, the Clippers’ dynamic bench combination of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell have been ascendant. Their adjustments to the Warriors’ coverage led to an unstoppable showing in Game 5, where they scored again and again and again. Things will certainly be tougher for them tonight, but both are players that feed off the home crowd, especially Harrell, and if they get in a rhythm, they could be difficult to slow down. Lou will, as always, need to be smart, picking his shots carefully and mixing in scoring with a heaping dose of playmaking. Trez will have to be relentless, as always, and be sure to not drive into traffic too much, instead passing back out to the perimeter if he’s swamped. The two reserves were near perfect last game, and will need to play at that level for the Clippers to get another win.
Youngsters continue to be solid: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet have played well most of the series, especially on the defensive end of the court. They’ve limited poor fouls, made only a few mistakes in switching and rotations, and have generally stuck in front of their man. Offensively, outside of Shai’s Game 4, neither has really been able to shake free for very long, but they haven’t forced things, and have played within the rhythm of the offense. At home, in a must-win situation, the two rookies have to be as composed as they have been so far. What they’ve done so far has been beyond impressive, and hopefully that consistency extends to Game 6.
On the brink: The Clippers are close to something amazing. They’ve already stunned the NBA world by taking this series to six games, but if they’re able to pull out this win, and force a Game 7, they would truly be on the cusp of history. Anything can happen in one game, and a Game 7 would give the Clippers a legitimate chance to advance to the next round. First, this game. The Clippers of all teams know not to look ahead, and they certainly won’t do so for this pivotal Game 6.
Check back in later tonight for the game thread, and head over to Golden State of Mind for the Warriors’ perspective!