Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors
Clippers lead series 3-2
10:30 p.m. PST
May 1, 2014
1. Is DeAndre Jordan’s performance from Game 5 repeatable?
Seth Partnow, (@WhrOffnsHppns): Offensively, probably not. But if he is able to approach his defensive performance from Game 5 in Game 6, it bodes extremely well for the Clippers’ chances. Even half of the statistical production should be enough but the key is being able to stay on the floor for long enough to make that happen. And to stay on the floor, he can’t be the defensively liability he was in Game 4.
Michael Shagrin, (@mshaggy): In Game 6 at Oracle? Doubtful. In a Game 7 at Staples? Far less doubtful. DeAndre Jordan’s play is as influenced by external factors as anyone on the Clippers, or in the NBA for that matter, thus huge variations in his production can be expected.
Aaron Fischman, (@aaronhartf): Actually, yes. Jordan was all over the court Tuesday night. He’s averaged 13.8 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game this series and has accomplished defensive feats that don’t even appear in a box score. But even the offense is repeatable. Jordan’s 25 points all came from interior buckets and free throws, including six of eight field goals that were set up perfectly by his teammates. Thanks to the Clippers’ incredible depth, as long as DJ rebounds and defends (rarely, a concern), 10 points is a solid contribution from him. That being said, another 20-point effort is not unrealistic, especially if 1) he continues be the recipient of so many beautiful assists and 2) Mark Jackson continues to employ the Deck-a-DJ tactic.
2. Who is the Warriors’ most important defender?
Partnow: Aside from Anderw Bogut, who probably doesn’t count, it’s definitely Draymond Green. Though Marreese Speights actually had some quality possessions guarding Blake in Game 5, Green is really the only Warrior who stands much of a chance over extended time. The key to Green’s success has been bullying Griffin out to 18 feet on the catch where Green can use his quickness and lower center of gravity to make it hard for Blake to get into the paint.
Shagrin: Andrew Bogut (see Jordan, DeAndre). But without him, Draymond Green sans-foul trouble has done more than his fair share of obstruction. His length and quickness seem to torment Blake Griffin in a manner reminiscent of Zach Randolph. And it’s not just Green’s one-on-one D that mucks up the Clippers’ offensive flow, but also his aggressive backline coverage deterring interior penetration.
Fischman: Well, it would’ve been Andrew Bogut, and while Andre Iguodala appears to be the Warriors’ most talented healthy defender, the Clippers haven’t gotten (or needed) much scoring from the small forward position. Therefore, it’s Draymond Green, one of the guys attempting to contain Blake Griffin. Although Griffin has generally gotten the better of the undersized Green, Green’s physical play has appeared to bother Griffin at times. If Green can hold his own and avoid foul trouble (on defense), he’ll likely help Golden State on both sides of the ball. If Griffin goes off, Golden State has no chance.
3. Is the Clippers’ lack of production from the small forward spot a problem?
Partnow: Let’s name names. Matt Barnes’ lack of production is a problem right now. Doc essentially has been forced into an offense-or-defense decision at all times during games. If Barnes remains invisible, it’s either an offense-challenged lineup with two non-threats (aside from DJ on the glass or on lobs), or the extremely defensively suspect units which include either Jamal Crawford or J.J. Redick at the 3 and Darren Collison having to guard someone. Barnes offering enough of a perimeter threat to force the Warriors to respect him will allow for a more balanced two-way attack, and looking forward slightly, the Clips are going to need something from him if or as they progress through these playoffs.
Shagrin: While a lack of production at any position is a problem for teams with championship aspirations, the scoring drought plaguing Matt Barnes is a pretty benign obstacle against the Warriors. The offensive mismatches primarily come at the top and bottom of the lineup with Curry and Lee or O’Neal. But if Barnes still can’t stretch the floor come Memorial Day, this would be a very serious problem.
Fischman: Not in this series. Iguodala has done such a good job defensively that Barnes has largely been rendered insignificant offensively. For this particular matchup, the Clippers don’t need the 6-foot-7 former Bruin to score much, as they have Griffin dominating, Paul generally doing his thing, Crawford suddenly catching fire and Redick hitting threes. At times, Collison’s speed is also giving the Warriors fits. Barnes had been shooting and scoring at a very good rate since the start of February. If he can rediscover that stroke, especially from the outside, the Clippers will be a lot tougher to beat, but his scoring isn’t desperately needed in Game 6 or a potential Game 7.