Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors
Series tied at 3
7:30 p.m. PST
May 3, 2014
1. Will Blake Griffin’s Game 6 struggles continue into Game 7?
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): No. On a per-36 basis, Griffin has been a completely different player at Staples (29.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 56.8 FG%, 86.4 FT%) compared to at Oracle (21.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.3 APG, 49.2 FG%, 50.0 FT%). I think the refs call things a little tighter in his favor, and the Warriors’ bigs — particularly Draymond Green — aren’t allowed to be as physical with him.
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): Draymond Green has played Blake Griffin well the last three games, during which Griffin’s averaging just 18.7 points a night. That said, Griffin seemed to enjoy a slight uptick in scoring in the last two fourth quarters. And Tuesday’s rough shooting included a handful of bunnies that just didn’t drop. I expect Griffin to have a better showing Saturday.
Law Murray, (@1maddskillz): They better not, or it will be a long summer for Griffin. Getting locked up by Draymond Green for a game is one thing, but Griffin can’t let another book be written about his shortcomings. From Game 6, it was a combination of handling the double team poorly, getting pushed outside of the free throw circle, and failing to finish inside ten feet. In addition to staying out of foul trouble, Griffin needs to stay confident and focused while being decisive.
2. Was the Game 6 Clippers loss discouraging because it was a loss or encouraging because it was a one-point game on the road?
Buha: The loss was discouraging because the Clippers looked frazzled by the Oracle crowd and because of the Dubs’ newfound defensive harmony, which shouldn’t be happening this late in the series. As Doc Rivers noted after the game, the Clips lost the 50/50 battle and seemed as if they were content just heading back to Staples. While it’s encouraging that they only lost by one after playing so poorly, it’s still a bad loss on balance.
James: The optimist would say that the team losing by only one point in the hostile environment of Oracle is encouraging — that if they’d played the exact same game in Staples Center, the Clippers probably would have escaped with a narrow win. But that knowledge won’t help them any on Saturday. They have to hit first and hit hard. And they need a lot more motion on offense.
Murray: Considering my prediction of “Clippers in 6” wasn’t realized, I will say that this was a discouraging loss. The Warriors didn’t play all that well in Game 6. The Clippers played worse, and they were lucky the loss was by a point. Chris Paul being banged-up also hasn’t been a good look, and you wonder who is actually playing their best ball at the moment.
3. Can the Clippers be considered contenders if Chris Paul isn’t healthy?
Buha: No. For as much as Griffin has improved, the Clippers still need Paul’s steady hand to guide their offense. His net rating on the floor (+8.5) is almost double Griffin’s (+4.5), and that’s with Griffin missing a large chunk of Game 1 (and the Clips being outscored during that time frame). This team is top-heavy, and for as good as Darren Collison has been, he can only replicate 60 percent of what CP3 does at best. A healthy Point God is needed.
James: No. How is this even a question? Could they win Saturday? Maybe. (Though probably not.) Regardless, I wouldn’t expect them to get out of the second round without a healthy Chris Paul. Look, this team has a lot of secondary weapons (Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, even Darren Collison), but its success is predicated on the big three being at full strength. Take away any one of them and you’ve still got a playoff team — but not a team that can win in the playoffs.
Murray: Contender is such a subjective term. I feel like you have to be a Final Four team to be a contender. It is debatable whether or not the Clippers can get there with Paul healthy. Even though I have been saying that the Clippers only go as far as Griffin can take them, Paul is a vital part of the team’s conquest to get past the second round. If he isn’t himself, the Clippers aren’t going to do much in Round 2. If they even get there.