The Golden State Warriors entered Game 6 of their first round playoffs series against the Los Angeles Clippers with two options: win or go home.
Technically, the Warriors were already home, but facing elimination, Stephen Curry led Golden State with 24 points and nine assists en route to a 100-99 win.
In the most physical game of the series, the Warriors and Clippers both struggled to keep healthy bodies on the floor. Warriors forward David Lee was the first player to foul out, but marquee Clippers Blake Griffin and Chris Paul battled foul trouble throughout the night.
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For the Warriors, the physical nature of the game took its toll early.
Glen Davis, who has a history of losing his balance, fell into Jermaine O’Neal’s knee in the first half. The Warriors’ big man was diagnosed with a right knee strain, and the 17-year veteran would not return for the remainder of the contest.
Golden State was already without starting center Andrew Bogut for the series, so the significant shortage in the front court should have spelled doom for the Warriors. With Lee and Marreese Speights battling foul trouble, the Clippers should have been able to look to Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to do damage down low.
However, Griffin had an off night and never truly got going. He fouled out with 17 points on 24 shot attempts. Jordan is not known for his offensive output, and the Warriors eventually rode the emotion of the home crowd to a slender victory.
Normally, a close game in the fourth quarter would feature Paul taking over, but the Clippers’ star guard was clearly hampered by a hamstring injury that has been plaguing him throughout the series. Paul would finish with only nine points to go along with his eight assists.
Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, who was averaging 12.6 points per game in the series entering Thursday’s must-win game, came up huge at the right time. Iguodala scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half. Most memorably, Iguodala converted a four-point play that fouled out Griffin late in the fourth quarter.
“He was huge,” Curry said about Iguodala after the game. “He did his job, got us to Game 7.”
The deciding Game 7 will take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday.