Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors
Series tied 2-2
7:30 p.m. PST
April 29, 2013
1. True or false: The Donald Sterling story has been an effective distraction for the Clippers?
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): I haven’t been able to focus on anything else for three days. How could the players? Between today’s cancelled practice, a 2:00 a.m. meeting, non-stop media coverage, and the inevitable blitz of texts, emails, and phone calls, I bet the players are at wit’s end.
Luke Laubhan, (@LukeLaubhan): Absolutely. If the Sterling fiasco didn’t occur, Doc Rivers, Chris Paul, and the rest of the Clippers would’ve spent the weekend focusing solely on Golden State. Instead, the coach is releasing statements, the players are holding meetings and protesting, and the franchise is ground zero for what’s become a 72-hour national conversation on racism in America. If everyone from the president to TMZ are weighing in on your day job, it’s distracting.
Law Murray, (@1maddskillz): False – effective distraction just sounds like an oxymoron in this case. No team needs a distraction in the postseason, especially one where people are torn between supporting you through adversity or encouraging you to not even play. I get the idea that adversity can draw a unit together and propel them to greater heights. The reality is this: It’s a lonely world for the Clippers right now.
2. How disconcerting was that Game 4 loss?
James: Let’s be honest, that game was over by midday Saturday, and it hadn’t even started yet. If you’re asking does the Game 4 loss mean the series is over, well, maybe it is. I just don’t see the players being able to get up for Game 5 at Staples Center unless Tuesday’s 11:00 a.m. press conference includes a statement about a vote to remove Sterling from his ownership position.
Laubhan: Not super disconcerting. From the opening tip, the Warriors played like a team that had to win the game or all but lose the series, and it was only a matter of time until Stephen Curry unleashed his unholy brand of mayhem. Compound that with Oracle’s unrelenting atmosphere and the Clippers understandably unfocused start, and that’s that. What’s more encouraging was L.A.’s fight; minus the first quarter, only six points separated the teams.
Murray: You could tell right away that the Clippers would be blown out in Game 4. They didn’t come out with the same pop as they did Game 3 in Oakland. The issue was defense and focus. When the Clippers are locked in, they fly around the perimeter, prohibiting shooters from getting clean looks. You saw that intense focus in Game 3. It wasn’t there when Stephen Curry blew up in the first quarter of Game 4. The way the team came out of halftime suggests that they could get it together in Game 5, but that’s not a certainty at all.
3. Do the Clippers need to make a deliberate effort to get the ball to Blake Griffin more?
James: You have to hope so. That was one of the only things working during Sunday’s loss. Of course Griffin has been able to score at will throughout this series, but I was still impressed that he was so efficient Sunday, all things considered. More touches for Griffin will help, but only if Deandre Jordan shows up looking bouncy – and the team doesn’t get shot out of the building again.
Laubhan: Against a Bogut-less Golden State, the more Blake touches the ball, the better. David Lee is basically a speed bump, and Draymond Green – who’s great, by the way – isn’t exactly a Griffin-stopper. When Blake operates with impunity in the post and faces up around the extended box, he scores, draws fouls, and his gravity sucks in perimeter defenders, which helps the team’s shooters. Those are all good things. The Clippers need more of those.
Murray: Yes, but not in a way that leaves the Clippers one-dimensional. If the Warriors are going to go with this small lineup, Griffin needs to be featured heavily. But that means Griffin needs to avoid weighting the offense down with turnovers and the “bull in a china shop” fouls Klay Thompson referred to that would damage the Clippers on both ends of the court. Griffin’s presence also unlocks DeAndre Jordan as a factor on the offensive glass and above the rim. Jordan was a complete non-factor in Game 4. You lean on your best under the microscope of the postseason, and this was always going to be a Blake Griffin series.