The first six games of the Warriors-Clippers series has been a slugfest, setting the stage for another thrilling matchup in Los Angeles on Saturday. At stake is a trip to the Western Conference Semifinals, and we bring in Steve Berman (Bay Area Sports Guy), Rich Twu (Let's Go Warriors), Grant Hughes (Bleacher Report), Adam Lauridsen (Fast Break) and Jordan Ramirez (Warriors World) to let us know how Game 7 might go down.
Yes, Game 7 should be another grinder. Blake Griffin will come out angry after Draymond Green and the rest of the Warriors held him to 33% shooting in Game 6 (Griffin refused to give Green any credit after that game, which was interesting). Look for him to try to get Green into foul trouble early, since that's what helped the Clippers jump out to a double-digit lead in Game 5.
The Warriors will try to determine Chris Paul's readiness early on. His hamstring has bothered him throughout the series, but he seemed to have more difficulty chasing Stephen Curry than ever during Game 6. But Paul won't give up, and neither will anyone else.
Besides a few moments here or there -- mostly in Game 2 -- this has been a really close series. We should probably expect that to continue. Both teams looked exhausted during Game 6, which is probably what led to the poor shooting numbers on Thursday night. I doubt both teams will make fewer than 40% of their shots, but this game will be another scrappy affair where the team that wins the turnover and loose ball battles will hold the advantage.
Players I expect to regress after strong Game 6 performances: Matt Barnes, Marreese Speights
Players I expect to bounce back after struggling in Game 6: Blake Griffin, Klay Thompson
But seriously, on the one hand, the Warriors have the momentum and have planted a serious seed of doubt in the minds of the Clippers. The other thing going for the Warriors is the questionable health of Chris Paul's hamstring.
I'm a big believer in the law of averages, so I think Klay Thompson might have a breakout game, given he was off in Game 6. Steph Curry scored 24, but didn't hit #HumanTorch mode.
On the flipside, it may be difficult to rely on the bench for an away game. That's made even more glaring considering how many fouls David Lee and Draymond Green have to expend while defending Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. And Jermaine O'Neal might not be 100% after being crashed into by Big Baby. Also will Speights bring the goods, two games in a row?
That's the beauty of the game of basketball. There are so many variables. And probably one or two you overlooked.
Grant Hughes | Bleacher Report | @g30three
This series has featured so many variables—lineup-altering injuries, off-court distractions, even foul trouble—that it's tough to guess how Game 7 is going to play out. But in venturing one, we have to point to another potentially massive variable on the horizon: Chris Paul doesn't look right. His right hamstring has been bothering him all series, and his left thumb is also an issue now. You can tell he's not as quick to penetrate as he usually is, though he's made up for it by turning into a deadeye sniper from long distance.
I have a feeling he's really hurting, and if Paul can't guide the Clippers in Game 7 (their offensive rating dips a full five points without him on the floor), I see a real possibility for the Dubs to steal the contest. Now, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson must get going on offense for the Warriors to maximize their chances, and it certainly feels like they're due to hit an open shot or two. The point is, Golden State really does have an opportunity to pull off the improbable road upset.
Adam Lauridsen | Fast Break | @GSWFastBreak
I expect something special. This wild and winding series hasn't just taken on a life of its own, it's spilled over the boundaries of basketball. The Sterling story, of course, has been widely reported, but you get the sense that many of the Warriors are also fighting for something extra -- their support for coach Mark Jackson. They're aware of the questions swirling around his future, and could push them aside with an underdog trip to the second round. The banged-up Warriors may not have the talent to prevail, even in a winner-take-all Game 7. But talent is only one factor in who wins these games, as the Warriors showed on Thursday, grinding out an ugly and improbable win. I've seen a lot in my 30 years of being a Warriors fan -- but I've never seen a Game 7. I can't wait.
Jordan Ramirez | Warriors World | @JRAM_91
You know what, just because these playoffs have been so amazing and unpredictable, I'll say this is the best played game of the series from both teams. Both teams are gassed, nursing injuries and while there hasn't been any real scuffle in the series, their disdain for each other is still palpable. After Game 6, when Blake Griffin was asked about Draymond Green, he gave no credit to Green's stellar defense and physicality and instead blamed himself for missing easy shots. Green is in his head, and Griffin is clearly struggling with his ferocity and sheer will to make the superstar's life a living hell on that end of the floor. With Jermaine O'Neal out, the game will naturally become faster, and I expect more transition points, threes and a better flow to this game than any other in the series. The status quo calls for a dirty, grinding game with nothing but blood and guts left on the floor when all said and done. This has been a relatively clean series, and both teams are due for a shooting barrage of epic proportions. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have yet to successfully splash on the same night, and with all the attention being paid to Curry, Thompson's streaky shooting is bound to trend upwards. Expect a lot of shots, bodies on the floor, some questionable calls and a close game come Saturday night.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Golden State Warriors.