CLIPPERS GETTING BACK TO BASKETBALL AS THEY READY FOR GAME 6
SAN FRANCISCO – The Clippers are closer than they have been days to focusing on just basketball.
Since Saturday morning virtually every question from the swarm of media around the team, which reached unprecedented levels on Tuesday at Staples Center, has been about the controversy surrounding the team’s owner. And while those questions continued Thursday as the Clippers wrapped up shootaround prior to Game 6 of their best-of-seven series with the Golden State Warriors, there was a sense that the team was getting back to basketball.
“I think we’re getting closer to being able to play basketball,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “I think the discussion will be here and that’s fine by us. I think our guys have been around it long enough now to deal with it and put it in its right place. But I think we’re getting closer and closer to talking about basketball.”
Chris Paul said after an emotional win in Tuesday’s Game 5 to put the Clippers ahead three games to two over the Warriors, they have been able to stay prepared to potentially close out the Warriors at Oracle Arena Thursday.
“I think we’re ready to go,” Paul said. “We won a very emotional Game 5 and I’m sure they’re not thinking about that. We’re not. They’re fans are not. It’s all about tonight.”
Matt Barnes shared Paul’s sentiments.
“I think the smoke has cleared for the most part for us,” Barnes said, “now that we’re able to go out there and just concentrate on being basketball players, which is what we signed up to do. The temperature and attitude of the team is back to ‘OK, now we can just play basketball.’ And I think that’s a good thing.”
Hedo Turkoglu, who left Game 5 after crashing to floor hard following an offensive foul by David Lee, said he will not play due to a hairline fracture in the transverse process in his lower back.
“He’s out,” Rivers reiterated. “So, he’s not doing well enough.”
Without Turkoglu, Danny Granger will likely play more alongside Barnes in the front court or Rivers could choose to play Jared Dudley, who appeared briefly in two games during the series.
Several other Clippers are banged up, but all will play in Game 6.
Paul has been hampered by a strained hamstring but said it’s getting better every day. Jamal Crawford, who scored 26 and 19 points in the last two games respectively, echoed Paul regarding his strained left calf. And Barnes, who jammed his left toe in Game 3, will play through the injury for a third-straight game.
“It’s tough,” Barnes said. “It’s a toe, so it’s constantly banged and when I’ve got to change direction it’s hard. Chasing Klay [Thompson] is tough, but like I’ve told everyone at this point no one is 100-percent healthy. So, you’ve got to suck it up and play through it.”