With about 2o seconds left, Doc Rivers high five’d a couple fans, and then walked down the bench giving high fives to each player. This was the moment when the Los Angeles Clippers collectively realized they had time to take a breath game 5. Hours after Adam Silver had taken care of business in a press conference in which he banned Donald Sterling, the Clippers took care of business (113-102 and now have a 3-2 advantage in their series with the Golden State Warriors.
The Clippers were expected to come out emotional and motivated, Charles Barkley expected them “to blow the doors off”. However, the Golden State Warriors were prepared and matched the Clippers the entire game as the Clippers lead never got over 11. This was the result of a strategic chess match between Mark Jackson and Doc Rivers.
Wach coach had some weird matchup’s defensively. Klay Thompson came out guarding Chris Paul, Draymond Green checked Blake Griffin, quickly got into foul trouble causing Mark Jackson to throw Mareese Speights on Griffin and David Lee on DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers for the second time this series put Matt Barnes on Klay Thompson giving Andre Iguodala a mismatch with JJ Redick and last nights game came down to who could exploit those mismatches better. In game 4, we saw the Warriors get out in transition and absolutely shred the Clips’ defense. Iggy had real success getting to the rim with his off ball movement including an array of backdoor and V-cuts which had Redick searching for his mark.
In game 5, it was the Clippers who exploited DeAndre Jordan’s mismatch with the much smaller, weaker David Lee. And this is not meant to be a knock on Lee’s strength, it’s just hard to match Jordan physically because of his unique strength combined with the work he does in the weight room. Jordan went to work early, scoring 8 points in his first shift on the floor. He finished with 25 points, a playoff career high, and 18 rebounds. He went 8 of 10 from the floor and 9-17 from the line, knocking down key free throws in the closing minutes as the Warriors attempted the Hack-a-DeAndre approach.
His performance along with some clutch shooting from Chris Paul(who struggled for most of the game) and Jamal Crawford gave the Clippers an edge on a night when they were not overly impressive offensively. It is never impressive when you win because of Hack-a-DeAndre, but the Clippers will take it and their performance last night was indicative to the resiliency this team has. Neither team was at their best, but the ability to win games with a sub-par overall performance is the trademark of a great team. The Clippers will have to travel back in to hostile territory tomorrow night where they hope to silence what will be a raucous Oracle Arena, and put this incredibly bizarre first round series to bed.