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Ten Before Tip: NBA News from Thursday

POSTED: Apr 24, 2014 10:00 PM ET


• The Warriors will bring their significant home-court advantage to bear for the first time in this year's playoffs tonight in Game 3, knowing that a sweep of all three games at Oracle will put them into the conference semifinals for a second straight season. That helps to quell any concerns about the Clippers' momentum after posting a 40-point blowout in Game 2. "If you're Memphis, you lose Game 1, you win Game 2, it's, 'What a great trip, you did the job,' " Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "If you're us, and you win Game 1 and lose Game 2, it's, head down and depressed. ... We did not do what we wanted to do, but we did the job."

• Clippers coach Doc Rivers said his team should be ready to receive the Warriors' expected bounce-back tonight. "I think we are," Rivers said. "We better be. ... We have to fight now. They're ahead, even though it's 1-1, because they have home court now. I don't think the margin of victory for us matters. We just want to have a victory. We should be ready. If we're not, we're not going to win."

• No changes are planned to the starting lineup for the Warriors, who will send out Jermaine O'Neal at center in place of injured Andrew Bogut for a third straight game, rather than going small.

• Rivers bristled at the notion that All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who's shooting just 35 percent on 2-point attempts thus far in the series with 5.5 turnovers per game, is struggling offensively. "We scored 140 points the other night, right?" said Rivers, referring to the 138-98 final on Monday. "So Chris had a good series. I don't look at his numbers like everyone else does. If we're scoring and Chris Paul is playing the amount of minutes he's playing, he's doing something right."

• Jackson said his team has put any residual effect from Monday's shellacking behind it already. "I like where my guys are," Jackson said. "And we have a history of responding when adversity sets in."

• Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is on a media strike in the wake of a third-place finish for Defensive Player of the Year. "I didn't know that," Rivers said. "Alright, DJ. I like him more now."

• Golden State center Festus Ezeli, who has missed the entire season recovering from knee surgery, is participating in one-on-one contact drills and five-on-zero non-contact drills. His next step is to play in five-on-five scrimmages. Jackson said he won't be available for at least Games 3 and 4.

• Following the first two games, the Oklahoma City Thunder made reference to the Memphis Grizzlies being allowed to use their hands defensively. It'll be interesting to see if Thursday night's Game 3 in Memphis is called any differently. Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger seems to think it won't be a factor. "I wouldn't assume that," he said. "We'll just go out and compete. We've played each other so many times. It's been just good competition, guys going at each other within the framework of the team."

• In Game 2, the Thunder used 6-7 guard Thabo Sefolosha to guard Memphis point guard Mike Conley at times. It was a move that had some success and one that the Grizzlies expect to see more of Game 3. "I thought it was good for them," Joerger said. "It allows [Russell Westbrook] to play off the ball. And Russell Westbrook is very switchable. He's so athletic he can guard bigger guys. We anticipate we'll see more of that." Thunder coach Scott Brooks agreed. "His length has bothered many guys," Brooks said. "We've always gone that way at times when we need it. Thabo is a defender that can guard multiple positions with his length." Conley averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 assists in the series.

• Oklahoma City only got 14 points from its bench in Game 2, with seven of those coming from Derek Fisher. Conversely, Memphis' reserves scored 33 points, led by backup point guard Beno Udrih, who had 14 points in 14 minutes. Brooks is looking for more from his second unit, particularly point guard Reggie Jackson, who was 0-for-5 and scored just two points. Jackson is 1-for-10 in the series. "They've been good all year," Brooks said, "Everybody's always stepped up and played a big role. ... I expect the same tonight. Their bench came in and did a great job last game. We have to play better as a group and we understand that. We're looking forward to the challenge tonight."

• The Grizzlies ended the regular season winning a franchise-record 14 games in a row at FedExForum. Their last loss at home was Feb. 5 against Dallas. The Thunder split their two regular season games in Memphis this season.

• If you were expecting the Pacers to make a big deal out of "sourced" reports Wednesday that head coach Frank Vogel is coaching for his job despite Indiana landing the No. 1 seed in the East, the Pacers themselves did little if anything to fuel the fire Thursday before Game 3 against the Hawks in Atlanta. General manager Kevin Pritchard even Tweeted about 90 minutes before the game, "President] Larry Bird just told me his sources say Frank Vogel's job is safe. @Pacers"

• From the outside looking in, the Atlanta Hawks appear to be in good shape heading into Game 3 after splitting the first two games in Indianapolis, yet forward Paul Millsap suggested to reporters at the morning shootaround that this is no time for the No. 8 seed from the East to gloat. "I'm looking no further than this game," Millsap said. "This is a big game for us and hopefully we come out and win it. We consider it a must-win for us."

• Indiana will again start George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert, and it's a good bet that Vogel will again curtail the minutes of Hibbert, his starting center. Hibbert's greatest value is as an interior defender, but Atlanta doesn't often run a big out there who camps in the paint. Hawks starting center Pero Antic, in fact, has taken 10 3-point shots in the series so far, making three. Given that and Hibbert's shooting woes (he shot just 1-for 7 in a win in Game 2, when his minutes dropped to 24:16 from 30 in the Game 1 loss), Ian Mahinmi and Luis Scola figure to play plenty.

• Not surprisingly, the Hawks too are sticking with their starting lineup of Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Millsap and Antic at spots 1-5.

• After allowing the Pacers to shoot 52.9 percent in Game 2 vs. 42.9 percent in Game 1, the Hawks figure to get up on shooters a little more in Game 3. That doesn't mean they're crazy enough to think that they can seriously slow Indiana's Paul George. But they'd like to limit his 3-point opportunities a bit, and take more chances forcing him to put the ball on the floor and drive into help defense. He is averaging 25.5 points on 17 shots per game, and has shot 8-for-15 on treys, including 5-for-7 in the Pacers' Game 2 win. The Hawks have not yet forgotten George shouting at the Atlanta bench after draining a trey in that rout.

• The Atlanta bench played just 68 combined minutes in the Hawks' Game 1 win, and about 112 in the Game 2 loss. A lot of that was determined by the fact that Game 2 tilted dramatically away from Atlanta as the Pacers outscored the Hawks 31-13 in the third quarter. Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer needs to be less concerned with how much time his bench players spend on the floor and more on how his team can slow the Pacers' reserves. Scola had 20 points and seven rebounds in Game 2, when C.J. Watson added 10 points and the Pacers' bench combined for 38 points to Atlanta's 22 from reserves. Scola is a tough matchup for Millsap, who is a starter.