Clippers focused on two issues heading into Game 3
OAKLAND, Calif. — A 40-point thumping isn’t easy to digest, even two days later. The Golden State Warriors were still talking about it Wednesday at practice, focusing not so much on the final score of their Game 2 playoff loss to the Clippers as they did on fixing two major problems:
1. Stopping Blake Griffin.
2. Setting a fire under Stephen Curry.
Both will be major objectives when the best-of-seven Western Conference series resumes Thursday night at Oracle Arena. After the 138-98 beat down the Clippers administered Monday at Staples Center, the Warriors acknowledge they are facing problems.
Perhaps none is more important than their defense.
"A lot of talk is about traps and all that kind of stuff, but if we give up a 140 every night, we’re not going to win anything," Curry said. "So defense is the biggest thing for us, especially starting games."
The Clippers owned double-digit first-quarter leads in both games, although they lost Game 1, and home-court advantage, 109-105. But Griffin, who fouled out in 19 minutes in the opener, scored 35 points in the second game, making him a priority for the Warriors.
Griffin totaled 14 points in the first quarter and made 13 of 17 shots for the game.
"The biggest thing I’ve said from the start is, I need to do a better job not letting him get those easy buckets in transition and the offensive glass and getting things out of the pick and roll," Warriors forward David Lee said. "I did a pretty good job of that in Game 1, and in Game 2 he got a lot of those kinds of buckets. It made him more comfortable in the game."
The Clippers had a 15-point lead after one period and a 26-point lead after two. Curry put some of the blame on himself, in part because he looked to get his teammates involve early rather than attack offensively himself. But the Clippers double-teamed him effectively out of the pick-and-roll, essentially forcing the ball out of his hands.
As a result, Curry was able to find Lee and Jermaine O’Neal for easy baskets in the first game but not in the second. Curry scored 14 points in Game 1 and had just four in the first half of Game 2 before finishing with 24.
"We need him to be aggressive," Golden State coach Mark Jackson said. "I thought the foul trouble (in Game 2) hurt him, so it’s not a fair barometer when you’re talking about both games. But we need him to be more aggressive, whether it’s for himself or making plays. If they’re going to play Steph that way, then guys have got to be live options."
Curry, however, acknowledged that he may have to try and score quickly to avoid falling into another hole in the first quarter.
"I need to be aggressive as much as possible to get us out of this lull in the first six minutes," he said. "They’ve gotten double-digit leads quickly. We were able to come back in Game 1, but weren’t able to do anything in Game 2. So whatever plays we’re calling, I need to figure out how to draw enough attention that we get open shots or force the issue to get into the paint and make plays."
Clippers go lightly
The Clippers had short practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, in part to give Chris Paul time to rest his right hamstring, which appeared to give him problems in Game 1. But it’s not something that will limit him, he told reporters.
"I’ll be ready," he said. "I’m good. As long as I’m on the court, I’m good."
Coach Doc Rivers said he was unlikely to allow Paul to get much time on the court during practice.
"Probably zero," he said. "We’ll watch him. I just think right now, with him, we have to monitor it. I have to watch his movements. And if he’s fine, he’s fine."