Facing elimination, the Clippers summoned another magical performance, taking Game 5 from the Warriors on the road.
You have to hand it to the Clippers. Taking two games from the Warriors in a single playoff series is a feat in and of itself. This is just the sixth time Golden State has dropped multiple games in the 17 playoff series they’ve played since Steve Kerr was hired in 2014-15 and they coalesced into their present form. Taking two on the road is even more impressive — before this series started, the Warriors were 39-6 in playoff home games since 2014-15. Doing it with a historic comeback and a win where you out-executed them down the stretch is insane.
The Clippers trailed by four at the end of the first quarter, surrendering 41 points, before winning the second and third quarters by 14. They outscored Golden State 15-10 over the final five minutes to hang on and force a Game 6 back in Los Angeles. Winning two more to complete the upset is a tall task but the Clippers have proven they can do the impossible.
The Warriors have no answer for Montrezl Harrell? The pick-and-roll combination between him and Lou Williams has been a staple of the Clippers offense all season but it’s absolutely destroyed the Warriors. While Williams faded out in Games 3 and 4, Harrell stayed strong. Including Game 5, he’s averaging 20.4 points per game and shooting 75 PERCENT FROM THE FIELD. Coming into Game 5, he’d been averaging 1.71 points per possession as the screener in the pick-and-roll, with those scenarios producing 7.3 points per game for Los Angeles. And, somehow, that number is going to go up when the stats are updated to include tonight’s action. The Warriors haven’t brought much in the way of effort and physicality and Harrell has been using those two tools to dunk his way through their big man rotation.
The Warriors have no urgency. Golden State’s has always been susceptible to a bad shooting night from one of their stars but the only thing that, consistently, makes them beatable is a lack of effort. They can overcome rough shooting if they are moving aggressively without the ball, creating turnovers and chasing loose balls, defending with passion. When those things don’t happen and they’re shooters are just average, crazy things can happen. From now until whenever their season ends, the defining question for Golden State is going to be how much lethargy and passivity their talent can overcome. This is not the vicious team that was looking to set single-season win records and beat everyone by 30. Will someone be able to beat them four times while they stand by the door absent-mindedly flipping their playoff switch on and off and on and off and on and off?
Patrick Beverly is a beast. At the beginning of this series, you’d point to his potentially disruptive defense on Durant as the biggest impact he could make. How about hitting 5-of-11 3-pointers in a closeout game? How about coming up with 14 rebounds, including three on the offensive glass? He’s way more than a nuisance to slather on an opposing team’s best scorer. Beverly is a game-changer.