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Ten Before Tip: NBA News from Tuesday


POSTED: Apr 29, 2014 9:54 PM ET

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• On a historic day that beamed the national spotlight on the Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA, with hundreds of journalists representing a wide range of media outlets filling every available seat inside Staples Center, there was still the matter of assuring Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round series against the visiting Golden State Warriors would be played tonight. Though the NBA took the unusual step of closing the locker rooms to media before the game, Clippers point guard Chris Paul and Warriors point guard Steph Curry made it clear about two hours before tip-off that they'd be playing tonight in a series that's knotted at 2-2. The pair released statements letting the world know that they and their teammates were in full support of NBA commissioner Adam Silver's punishment of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, which includes a lifetime ban on all NBA activities, after a tape recording surfaced of the 80-year-old expressing "deeply offensive and hurtful" views toward minorities, Silver said before announcing the suspension earlier today. Golden State coach Mark Jackson confirmed before the game that there was serious consideration to boycott the game if Silver's sanctions were not considered severe enough by NBA players and coaches.

• The Warriors will stick with the same starting lineup that got them a victory Sunday in Game 4. Draymond Green will start at power forward with David Lee moving to center. Golden State will continue to be without Andrew Bogut, its starting center during the regular season, who suffered a fractured rib six days before the start of the playoffs and is still sidelined. The Warriors started veteran Jermaine O'Neal at center the first three games of the series and he played well in spurts, but Green is a better defender on Blake Griffin than Lee, which will also help Lee stay out of foul trouble while guarding the more offensively-limited DeAndre Jordan.

• Griffin is shooting 64.3 percent from the floor in the last three games and L.A. has won two of those. He scored a playoff career-high 35 points in the Game 2 victory at Staples Center and came back with 32 in Game 3, which the Clippers won on the road to regain home-court advantage. Only Elton Brand has scored more points in a playoff game in franchise history (36 and 40 in 2006).

• The Oklahoma City Thunder play host to the Memphis Grizzlies tonight at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, which is tied at two victories apiece.

• Thunder Chairman of the Board Clay Bennett released a statement today in reaction to the decision by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to ban Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the NBA for life. "The Oklahoma City Thunder strongly supports the decisive action taken today by Commissioner Silver. Ours is a league of inclusion, tolerance and fairness. The Thunder organization will continue to work to foster the tenets of diversity and respect, and build on that standard moving forward."

• Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said of the decision, "I'm proud of the commisioner's quick response. I think he did a great job. As a former player and now as a coach we didn't like what transpired and hopefully now we can put it behind us." Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger said Sterling's recorded comments were, "disturbing and ugly," but he admitted he wasn't sure of what sanctions had been imposed and that, "it's not my place to judge."

• The Thunder are wearing black shoes and socks tonight (at least during warm-ups) to show solidarity with the Clippers. Normally they wear white shoes and socks and home.

• As far as basketball is concerned, defense has been dominant in the series so far. Kevin Durant is shooting just 39.6 percent overall and 26.5 percent on his 3-pointers. Zach Randolph is hitting just 36.0 percent of his shots and Mike Miller is shooting a mere 27.3 percent overall. Durant says he's only changing one small part of his routine during his shooting woes, "I have to not read the media stories and not look at Twitter and Instagram."

• As a team the Thunder have struggled from beyond the arc hitting just 25.5 percent of their 3-point shots. That's next to last among the 16 playoff teams (Brooklyn 25.0 percent). Joerger said, You gotta anticipate more shots are gonna go in for them."

• Brooks said he will probably do the same thing tonight that he did in Saturday night's game and that's put defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha on Memphis point guard Mike Conley to start the game. "I think Thabo's length bothers him and we want Thabo to harass him in the back court too."

• When Thunder guard Derek Fisher takes the floor tonight he will set a record for most NBA playoff games played (245). He's tied with Robert Horry right now. Going into tonight's game Fisher is closing in on the record for playoff wins. He has 153 (third all-time) behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (154 playoff wins) and Horry (155).

• The Washington Wizards take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 of their first-round playoff series with the Bulls tonight in Chicago. They are in position to win their first playoff series since 2005 when they eliminated the Bulls in six games. Since winning the NBA title in 1978, the Wizards have won only four playoff series.

• Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is consistent to a fault. While his team has been unable to match up with the Washington Wizards, he has stuck to his player rotation, using only eight players in all four games, including rookie Tony Snell, who has played just 41 minutes. Heading into a possible elimination game, Thibodeau was asked if he would change anything. "You are not going to change the strengths and weaknesses of your team,'' Thibodeau said Tuesday. "There will be subtle differences. We have to see how the game goes."

• Despite the fact most observers believe the Wizards have outplayed the Bulls consistently, Thibodeau points to the statistics to show that the series has been very close. He noted both teams are shooting between 44 and 45 percent, they are exactly equal in rebounds, and their free-throw numbers are very similar. The difference is in effort stats like steals (32-21) and blocked shots (22-14). "It has actually come down to two loose balls,'' he said. "Sometimes it is just getting your hand on the ball."

• The Bulls have never won a series in which they were down 3-1, but more importantly, they are 2-3 in elimination games under Thibodeau. In a very similar situation, they were down to Philadelphia 3-1 in the first round in 2012, the series in which Derrick Rose was first injured, and won Game 5 at the United Center in a defensive struggle 77-69, before losing in Game 6 back in Philadelphia.

• In two of the series' games, the Wizards have taken off to a double-digit lead in the first quarter; they scored the game's first 14 points in Sunday's contest at Washington. "We've established a defensive presence,'' Washington coach Randy Wittman said. The Wizards have won the first quarter in each of the first four games and outscored the Bulls by 25 points.

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