OAKLAND – The Warriors didn't ask for this, to be under a spotlight of such magnitude that it will shine brightly Sunday when they meet the Clippers for Game 4 of their first-round playoff series.
But the incendiary racist remarks attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling are forcing the teams to share the NBA stage with reality beyond hoops. The comments allegedly uttered by Sterling merely add dimension to a rivalry with plenty.
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"Hopefully (Sunday's) game will be exciting and will help us not put too much attention on such a sad situation,'' Warriors forward Andre Iguodala said Saturday.
The game itself should provide plenty of drama.
For the better part of three hours, the focus will be on basketball, the Warriors trying to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece and the Clippers aiming to to take a commanding 3-1 lead as the action returns to Los Angeles for Game 5.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson is considering a lineup change, most likely inserting forward Draymond Green for center Jermaine O'Neal, who started the first three games in place of the injured Andrew Bogut. Forward David Lee would then swing to center, with Green taking Lee's vacated spot and the assignment of guarding Clippers star Blake Griffin.
The goal is to slow Griffin, who has powered his way to 83 points in 93 minutes.
Lee on Friday vowed to do a better job, and that presumably applies whether he's matched up with L.A. center DeAndre Jordan or Griffin.
Meanwhile, the Warriors realize they have to make improvements to their offense, which has lost its touch from outside.
Having missed 40 of 50 3-point attempts over the last two games, they'll seek ways to get guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson involved, as well as boosting the scoring outputs of Harrison Barnes and Iguodala.
Curry thus far has been stifled by the defense of Chris Paul, who often gets help. In many instances when Curry moves the ball to an open shooter, the shot doesn't fall.
"Steph has to continue to trust the guys around him,'' Jackson said. "He also has to be a little more aggressive. We've got to put him in position (to) be a threat.
"They're doing a good job putting two guys on him and forcing him to get rid of the basketball. What I don't want him to do is get out of character and take bad shots and make bad decisions, trying to do too much.''
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The Warriors are going to need the best of Curry, as well as his teammates. The Clippers will be trying to dismiss the hurtful comments of their owner.
And, by the way, in case you've forgotten, these teams still share a mutual dislike.
"You don't have to have some crazy speech or some motivational clip or anything like that,'' Iguodala said. "We know what the situation is and how important it is to get this next game.''
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Green vs. Griffin. Undersized but relentlessly scrappy, Green had moderate success against Griffin in Game 3. He'll have to avoid foul trouble against one of the five most imposing offensive forces in the league.
Curry vs. Paul. The winner of the point guard battle thus far is Paul who has imposed his will more often and whose team leads the series. But Curry is due for a comeback, for a big game. When he's on, it energizes the entire Warriors' offense.
Lee vs. Jordan: It's not a fair battle at the rim, where Jordan can dominate. But if Lee can find his midrange jumper, he might be able to lure the big man out of the paint. This adjustment must be an option, because but nothing else has reduced Jordan's impact.
KEEP AN EYE ON:
The Clippers almost certainly will be emotionally affected by their owner's latest revelation of character. Off-field issues sometimes tighten on-court focus. It won't take long to discern how much, if at all, the Clippers are distracted.
For the Warriors, C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery rehab), C Andrew Bogut (fractured rib) and G Nemanja Nedovic (strained right calf) are out indefinitely.
The Clippers report no injuries.