The 2014 series between the Clippers and the Warriors has been an absolute slugfest, with two very qualified teams refusing to acquiesce to the other and let their marathon season end abruptly. It should come as no surprise then that the Warriors were able to stave off elimination and grind out an extraordinary win Wednesday night against their rival from LA 100-99. They’ll play in their first game seven in 37 years Saturday in Los Angeles.
The Clippers tried to execute the same strategy they had for much of the series: double team Stephen Curry as soon as he steps over half-court with the ball, and force other Warrior players to score. It continued to be largely affective, and Curry was never quite comfortable the whole game. While he did end up leading all Warriors in scoring with 24 points, he did so on 38% shooting, including just two-of-eight from the arc.
While the Warrior’s All-Star was roundly held in check, the same could be said for the Clipper’s Blake Griffin, who has dominated this series whenever he’s been out of foul trouble. Enter Draymond Green, who found himself at the center of nearly every great play Golden State had Wednesday and held Griffin to only 17 points on 8-of-24 shots. Whether it was defending Griffin on the low block, boxing out for huge rebounds to end possessions, or finding himself open for shots towards the end of the game, Green came through in a big way for the Warriors and was clearly the MVP of the game, finishing with 14 points, 14 rebounds, five steals, four assists, and one block.
While there has been some beautiful basketball played in this series, game six did not feature any of those plays. It was truly ugly, sloppy basketball, with touch fouls called on both sides throughout the game to both teams. The game featured 52 personal fouls and 70 free throws, with players from both sides mired in foul trouble.
Perhaps a reason for the large amount of foul calls is the history these two teams have with each other, including Christmas day ejections and numerous technical and flagrant fouls during the course of this series. Some might say it’s just playoff intensity and old-school basketball, but there is no excuse for what Glen “Big Baby” Davis did to Jermaine O’Neal in the second quarter. As O’Neal corralled a rebound, Davis “lost his balance” and essentially tackled him, leading with his shoulder in Jermaine’s knees.
O’Neal went down howling, and would not return, with the official diagnosis as a sprained knee. After the game, Jermaine did not mince words. “It’s just a dirty play, to be quite honest.” O’Neal will have an MRI Friday to determine if there is any ligament damage, but barring news of an ACL tear he expects to play.
With the swirl of rumors that Mark Jackson is fighting for his job, and the circus that has been the Clippers since Donald Sterling’s audio tapes surfaced last week, the fans are sure to get their fill Saturday. At this point with game seven, it’s just going to come down to the team that wants it more.