It's a good thing Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson isn't a betting man.
It's not that Jackson lacks faith in his group, he's a realist. If the former broadcaster was still calling games on the sideline instead of coaching them, he said he would've been among the many analysts who picked the third-seeded Clippers to take this series, via Monte Poole of Comcast SportsNet:
Had he known how the game would play out, he may have been even more inclined to side with Hollywood's finest.
All-Star starter Stephen Curry struggled throughout his 44-plus minutes of floor time. He finished his night with 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting, matching his seven assists with seven turnovers.
Already down rim protector Andrew Bogut (out indefinitely with a fractured rib), Golden State also got just 20 minutes out of perimeter stopper Andre Iguodala. The former All-Star posted just eight points and three assists before fouling out at the 3:04 mark of the fourth quarter.
Yet, the Warriors scraped their way to the narrow victory behind a solid performance from David Lee (20 points, 13 rebounds), a 48-42 edge on the glass and a 32-26 advantage in bench scoring.
Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin fouling out after only 19 minutes of action was a tremendous lift as well.
Luckily, Jackson isn't forced to eat his words. He's savoring the sweet taste of success, instead.
Since he is the Warriors coach and no longer a talking head, he said Golden State was his pick all along, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
Mark Jackson said if he worked for ESPN, he'd pick the Clippers to win this series. But he's coaches Warriors, so he's sticking w/ his team— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 19, 2014
He said he isn't worried about needing to control his guys in what has been a contentious series over the last two seasons because he has "sane players" on his roster, via Medina:
Mark Jackson on intensity of Clippers-Warriors series, "I have sane players, I don't have to counsel them"— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 19, 2014
Given all the bad blood that's been shed between these teams, there's no use for a bandage at this point. Jackson's not-so-subtle jab is par for the course in this slugfest of Western Conference heavyweights.
That's what makes this rivalry as special as it is: Anything can—and does—happen when these Pacific Division foes lock horns.
Up to and including a coach being pleasantly surprised with a win, apparently.