HOW WILL CLIPPERS PERFORM IN FIRST HOME GAME SINCE STERLING SAGA GRABBED HEADLINES?
It takes a lot for us to bypass a series for showcase coverage that just had three straight overtimes! But, Oklahoma City/Memphis going to have to wait for another time on these NOTEBOOK pages because the whole world is wondering what’s going to happen Tuesday Night at the Staples center when the embattled Los Angeles Clippers host the Golden State Warriors in Game Five of their Western Conference series.
And, we don’t just mean basketball fans. It may become one of the biggest news stories of 2014 depending on how the city itself responds to the controversial recorded comments of Clippers owner Donald Sterling that went public this past weekend. A bubbling cauldron may reduce to a simmer, or may boil over.
Handicapping a situation like this is a tremendous challenge. The Clippers could channel all the energy into a peak performance that represents their loyalty to each other and to their fans. But, the distractions were so big Sunday afternoon that the team was barely a shell of its usual self. They had to shoot well on three-pointers just to lose by 21 points! They allowed countless open looks to Golden State sharp shooters. Their own offense turned the ball over 19 times. It wasn’t LA Clippers basketball. It was slow-footed, distracted, unable-to-concentrate basketball.
THE SERIES SO FAR
Game One: Golden State (+7) beat the LA Clippers 109-105
Game Two: The LA Clippers (-8) beat Golden State 138-98
Game Three: The LA Clippers (-3) beat Golden State 98-96
Game Four: Golden State (+1.5) beat the LA Clippers 118-97
The Clippers largely lost the opener because Blake Griffin couldn’t stay on the floor due to whistle happy refs. They won the next two games playing much more like a Western contender should. Then, Game Four was more a protest than a game, as the players struggled amidst the controversy. Game Five could truly bring anything…from a replay of LAC at its best (Game Two) to a replay of LAC at its worst (Game Four).
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SERIES STRENGTHS FOR GOLDEN STATE
- Surprisingly great at rebounding, winning that stat in all four games
- Capable of excellent shooting stretches, though unable to do it on command
Honestly, they only looked great Sunday vs. the half-hearted vs. of the Clippers. The Game One upset was more about what the Clippers couldn’t do when Griffin was out. Golden State didn’t shine at any particular element besides rebounding. Turnovers were a big problem in three of four games. Inside defense is missing Andrew Bogut (still out with an injury). We all know that Golden State is fantastic at draining open looks. They’ve only pulled that off once so far in this series.
SERIES STRENGTHS FOR THE LA CLIPPERS
- Forcing turnovers
- Winning the inside battle when not in foul trouble
- Discouraging open looks for GS on treys much of the time (10 of 50 in G’s 2-3)
- Making their own treys (10-12-8-10 on a game-by-game basis)
In terms of playoff basketball, the Clippers were the better of the two teams at full strength when NOT dealing with the largest playoff distraction ever. They are clearly very capable of re-taking command of the series if they’re focused or motivated to play their best. They could also be phantoms unable to go all out for this team owner with their season destined to end before the weekend.
Game Five Vegas Line: LA Clippers by 6.5, total of 211
You can see that the market has come down a bit from the first two games. Oddsmakers really don’t know what to do here because the “intangible” factors could be worth a dozen points. Sharps haven’t yet made any sort of stand as they try to get a better read on the team’s mindset. The total is up a point from Sunday’s game because most “intangibles” would seem to favor more scoring rather than less.
JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his West Coast sources to get the right read on this game. As we go to press, it’s undetermined yet whether we’ll have a major release…or pass the game and focus on Washington/Chicago and Memphis/Oklahoma City. You can purchase the final word for Tuesday any time during the late morning or early afternoon right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to check on special combination packages that include this Saturday’s KENTUCKY DERBY and the rest of horse racing’s TRIPLE CROWN!
Back with you Wednesday for Game Five of the Portland/Houston series. Will the Rockets be heading home earlier than anyone imagined? We’ll talk about that the next time we’re together. For now, there’s plenty on the plate on the much anticipated Tuesday schedule. Let’s go GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!
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