Klay Thompson, Warriors looked ahead to Rockets and broke a No. 1 rule again vs. Lou Williams, Clippers
OAKLAND – The Golden State Warriors looked so far ahead, they broke one of their own top rules… again. For the second time in a row, the Warriors dropped a home playoff game to the L.A. Clippers. The Clippers survived a late fourth quarter push from the defending NBA Champions and forced a Game 6 back home in Los Angeles.
The Clippers joined the Cleveland Cavaliers as the only teams to defeat the Warriors in consecutive games at home during the Steve Kerr era.
At Warriors shootaround Wednesday morning before Game 5, center Kevon Looney said one of the rules he discovered when he was drafted was to never lose to the Clippers. That’s already been broken twice this series.
“Coming in my rookie year, you could definitely tell it was a rivalry between the Clippers and the Warriors. It seemed like they hated each other and as a rookie coming in, I didn’t understand why. I didn’t really watch that much, so I didn’t know what the rivalry was about. I know when I first came in, that was one of the number one rules. We don’t lose to the Clippers. I seen a lot of great games from Steph and Klay versus them.”
Just before the Clippers and Warriors tipped off Game 5, it was the Houston Rockets who closed out the Utah Jazz in their own home Game 5 to advance to the Western Conference semifinals. Once Houston took a 3-0 lead over Utah, it was all but inevitable that they’d advance. Following Golden State’s Game 4 victory, Klay Thompson said he was already looking ahead at the Dubs’ next matchup.
“Well, we have our eyes on the other teams playing, and we see Houston being up 3-0, a chance to close it out,” Thompson said Sunday after Game 4. “We didn’t want to extend this series any longer because we know how grueling the Playoffs can be. Already let one slip away, so tonight we came in with that mindset to put our foot on the throttle and not let go because we let go in Game 2 and we won’t do that again the rest of the Playoffs. I really believe that.”
Maybe he did really believe that, but the reality is that the Clippers, with zero past or current All-Stars, have taken two games against the star-studded Warriors with a good chance at home to somehow even the series up at three games apiece.
The way Thompson spoke, it’s almost as if the Warriors had already advanced and looked past the Clippers. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant both denied that it played a part in their Game 5 loss.
After the loss, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant denied that the Warriors were thinking ahead to the Rockets.
“I haven’t talked to my teammates about the Rockets,” said Durant. “So I don’t know. I know I’m not thinking about the future. Just thinking about the game. And I feel like everybody has their mindset. But I can’t tell you for sure what they’re thinking.
“No, not at all,” added Curry. “The Clippers played well tonight. We understand, we’ve been in this situation plenty of times. We know how hard it is to close a series out. At the end of the day, as bad as we played in the first half, we were up one with two and a half minutes left. So we clawed our way back and gave ourselves a chance to win. They just made shots down the stretch.”
While he wasn’t overconfident, Looney did speak about how the Clippers are a good learning experience for him with Houston waiting up next.
“As a big, if we close out and end up having to play Houston, this is a great series to learn how to not foul and know how to play sound defense on Lou Williams, who is great at getting to the line. It’s kind of a great comparison and a great way to get ready for the rest of the series.”
The main culprit of the Rockets talk to begin with, however, fully admitted his big mistake.
“Yup, start with me, I was. I thought we were going to come out and win tonight, but sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. We’re still in a great position with hopefully only 48 minutes left to close these guys out. They’ve been pesky. They’ve been tough, but now it’s time to do what we do.”
Instead of having a few days off to recover from this physical series, the Warriors have to get back on a flight to L.A. and prepare for a big Game 6 on Friday night.
“That’s something they should focus on,” said Lou Williams about the Thompson’s original comments. “For us, our focus was to come in extend the series and get another win on the home floor. It’s their mistake for looking ahead. So, that’s on them.”
If Games 4 and 5 were any indication, the Clippers have found a lot of success against the Warriors with JaMychal Green starting and going with a shorter rotation of eight or so guys.
Game 6 between the Clippers and Warriors will tip off at 7PM PST on Friday night.