NBA: Clippers look to even series with Warriors on home court

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Apr 21 2019 06:14 PM

Los Angeles Clippers forward JaMychal Green (4) reacts after fouling Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second half in game three of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

As the Los Angeles Clippers and visiting Golden State Warriors prepare for Game 4 in their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Sunday, neither team is putting much stock in what's happened so far.

The Warriors own a 2-1 series lead after their 132-105 win on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

For the second straight game, the Clippers fell behind by 31 points in the third quarter, only the Warriors closed out the Game 3 win.

They let the Clippers get back into Game 2 on Monday in Oakland, however, and eventually lost 135-131 as the Clippers posted the largest comeback win in NBA postseason history.

"Lot of work to do," Golden State guard Steph Curry said after the win on Thursday. "We hope the (Game 2 troubles) are behind us in terms of having a 16-minute stretch like that, where we literally forget how to play basketball. We got a lot of work to do. We're not getting ahead of ourselves at all."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers has the task of motivating his players after they seemed to hit a wall in Game 3. His first piece of advice following the loss was to keep fighting back.

"You got to keep punching," he said. "You're going to get hit. We got hit (Thursday) night. We didn't throw any punches back, but that's what you have to do. We win Sunday, it's a tied series. Again, it's a series. Thank God this is not college."

Golden State lost starting center DeMarcus Cousins to a season-ending torn quad muscle early in Game 2, which would seem to give the Clippers a big advantage in the middle with 7-1 center Ivica Zubac.

Rivers didn't like what he saw in the first half of Game 3, however, and replaced Zubac with 6-9 stretch forward JaMychal Green to start the second half. The change seemed to stretch out the floor and generate more open shots, but Los Angeles was unable to convert most of them.

Rivers likely won't start Green in Game 4.

"That's something we'll consider, but I doubt we'll do it," he said.

Curry said the Warriors will be ready for any type of lineup they'll face on Sunday, and their experience should play a key role.

Since the Warriors lost to the Clippers in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, Golden State has won 15 of the past 16 playoff series.

"The way you win a championship, the way you win a series, or whatnot, is being able to do that consistently, put back-to-back games together," Curry said. "That's the challenge ahead of us for Sunday."

Being on the road shouldn't make things more challenging for the Warriors either, Curry said.

Golden State has won four straight playoff games on the road, dating back to the Western Conference Finals last season against the Houston Rockets.

"You take control of a series by winning games on the road," Curry said. "We've been able to do that. We've got another opportunity on Sunday. Hopefully, that trend continues as we chase another championship."

Rivers said a key for the Clippers is getting stretch forward Danilo Gallinari going offensively. Gallinari averaged 19.8 points in the regular season and scored 24 in Game 2, but he was held to nine points on 2-for-13 shooting in Game 3.

"We've got to get him even better shots. We've got to give him more shots," Rivers said. "If Gal doesn't score, we're going to struggle. We need his scoring."

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