Warriors want to close out Clippers in Game 5
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The Golden State Warriors hope to avoid giving their future competition any scheduling advantage as they seek to close out the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 5 of their first-round series Wednesday night in Oakland.
The top-seeded Warriors rebounded from a shocking home loss in Game 2 to sweep a pair in Los Angeles, putting themselves one win away from the Western Conference semifinals.
There the defending champions would face the winner of the Houston-Utah series, which got extended at least to a fifth game Monday when the Jazz stayed alive with a 107-91 win in Game 4.
The earliest the Rockets can clinch a spot in the semifinals would be a couple of hours earlier Wednesday, forcing the Warriors to take care of business against the Clippers to keep pace.
"We see our opponent," Warriors guard Klay Thompson boasted immediately after Sunday's win in Los Angeles. "We don't want to give them any more rest days. We don't want to extend the series any longer than we need to, because every game is so pivotal in the playoffs."
The Warriors were denied a potential four-game sweep when the Clippers mounted a historic rally from a 31-point deficit to win Game 2 in Oakland. Lou Williams had 36 points in the win, but was held to a total of 28 in the two subsequent home games as Golden State brought help to contain him.
One Clipper who took advantage of the situation was rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who exploded for 25 points in Game 4 after having totaled 29 in the first three games.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers hopes more of his guys learn from Gilgeous-Alexander's example.
"They're playing off of him, and instead of just standing there and being a spot-up shooter, he actually decided to make plays," the coach noted to reporters after Sunday's game. "That's what we like."
If there's reason for optimism for the Clippers, it's that the Warriors have been susceptible to letdowns at home this season.
They followed a critical win over Denver in March with a 115-111 home loss to the Phoenix Suns. Two weeks later, they were clobbered 126-91 at home by Dallas after an impressive win over Indiana.
Meanwhile, the Warriors last week set an NBA record with at least one road win in each of their last 20 playoff series.
En route to 15 wins in their last 16 playoff series, the Warriors have been nearly unbeatable when given a chance to end a series at home in Game 5.
They eliminated their first two opponents last year -- San Antonio and New Orleans -- under those circumstances, and finished off Cleveland in Game 5 of the 2017 Finals.
In the Steve Kerr era, the Warriors have lost Game 5 at home just once, that coming in the 2016 Finals against Cleveland in the game immediately following Draymond Green's controversial suspension.
The Clippers, meanwhile, have lost Game 5 in each of their last five playoff series.
The last time they won a Game 5, it was at home against Golden State in the first round in 2014. The series was tied 2-2 at the time, before Los Angeles went on to win in seven games.
That was also the last time the Warriors lost a playoff series to a Western Conference opponent.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 23, 2019