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Golden State Seeks to Extend Win Streak on Home Court, Dragic Wins Most Improved Honors

The No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers (57-25) and the No. 6 Golden State Warriors (51-31) will enter Thursday’s Game 3 tied at 1-1 but the Warriors will likely bring some baggage from Game 2. On Monday, the Clippers crushed them 138-98 and some adjustments will need to be made to make this series more competitive.

And one immediate way it will start is playing on Golden State’s home court for the first time in this series. History is on their side for the playoffs as they are 6-0 combined there including 2007’s first round wins against the Dallas Mavericks and in 2013 versus the Denver Nuggets.

During this regular season, Golden State defeated the Clippers twice at Oracle Arena and will hope victories happen in threes. Meanwhile, Los Angeles knows playing in Oakland is challenging as they’ve lost 15 of their previous 17 games on the court and playing there in the playoffs is unchartered territory.

Good luck playing with the loud crowd.

But there’s more. Golden State will need to cut down on the turnovers (26) and Stephen Curry will need to play like Stephen Curry as the Clippers stopped him in Game 2. He scored 24 points on “streaky shooting.” The absence of Andrew Bogut was also felt on Monday.

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin

For the Clippers, they’ll want to continue playing like they have been. Blake Griffin scored 35 points Game 2–a career-high playoff number. He was 13 of 17 from the floor, 9 of 10 in free throws and added six rebounds in 30 minutes of play. This followed Game 1’s shorter appearance (19 minutes) with 16 points and three rebounds before fouling out.

Griffin said of Thursday’s game via the Associated Press, “It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be exciting. I think every basketball player loves playing in an environment like that. We’ve played in places that are pretty loud before, especially in the playoffs. I’ve heard good things about the crowd and we’re looking forward to it. Absolutely.”

As for teammate Chris Paul, he sat out of practice on Wednesday–a second straight day–as he nurses a right hamstring injury. He played in Monday’s game and has said he’s good to go for Thursday. The injury came on Saturday as he chased down Curry, who has been guarding in this series, at the end of the game’s second half.

Paul said of Curry via ESPN, “For me going into every game, it’s defense first. Guarding Steph is tough. Running through those screens and running off screens is tough. You just have to try to stay on his body as much as possible. He’s a great scorer, great shooter, you just have to limit his touches and try to make it as tough as possible.”

On Thursday, Golden State will get the win (-1.5, 215 o/u). Looking ahead, they sit at 40/1 to win the 2014 NBA Championship while the Clippers are 10/1.

Goran Dragic

Goran Dragic

In other Pacific division news, the Phoenix Suns’ Goran Dragic had been named by the league on Wednesday as the 2013-14 Most Improved Player. He grabbed 65 first-place votes with 408 total points, surpassing second-place winner, Indiana Pacers Lance Stephenson, who received 13 first-place votes with 158 total points.

The rest of the list, according to CBS Sports, included the following: Anthony Davis, Gerald Green, DeAndre Jordan, Kyle Lowry, Blake Griffin, DeMar DeRozan and Patty Mills.

For Dragic, who has been in the league since 2006 when he was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs,  underwent his best year in the league this year. At 27, his averages included a career-high 20.3 points (50.5 percent shooting), 5.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds over 76 games.

Dragic’s numbers improved after teammate Eric Bledsoe  sat on the bench with an injury and he took over for the team offensively. On Feb. 28, he scored 40 points–a career high–versus the New Orleans Pelicans in a 116-104 victory.



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