Programming note: Coverage of Game 7 between the Warriors and Clippers starts tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (Channel Locations)
LOS ANGELES -- Few outside their circle gave them a chance and only a few others could visualize them taking it this far -- as far as a playoff series can go.
And yet, the Warriors and all of their baggage -- the injuries and internal strife and external sniping -- come into Staples Center with a chance to upset a championship contender in the first round of the playoffs.
Game 7 against the Clippers represents in many ways a triumph in itself for the Warriors.
"You've just got to live in the moment and enjoy it," forward Andre Iguodala said. "You don't want to look back in a year or two or 10 years and say, 'I could have done something different' as far as effort and focus."
The No. 6 seed Warriors have made this a surprisingly competitive series against the third-seeded Clippers. Los Angeles is averaging a few more points (108.3 to 104) but both teams are shooting 45.5 percent. The Warriors are grabbing two more rebounds per game, while the Clippers are committing three fewer turnovers.
But only one team will be standing at the end of the evening.
"The pressure is on them," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "They earned the right to have homecourt. And they've got some stars, some in uniforms and one in a suit and tie. The pressure is on them."
The Clippers have completed back-to-back 50-win seasons. They have two perennial All-Stars, point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin. Veteran coach Doc Rivers led Boston to an NBA title in 2008. LA is the more muscular team.
The Warriors have countered by speeding up the tempo, forcing the big boys to hustle. It was enough for a narrow win in Game 6 (100-99) at Oracle Arena, and that was enough to force Game 7 on the road.
[REWIND: Warriors dig deep, force Game 7]
This is the first time the Warriors have appeared in a Game 7 since 1977. Their last Game 7 victory came in 1975.
"I'm sure every possession is going to count," Jackson said. "But if we give forth the effort that we gave forth (in Game 6) and we execute and take care of the basketball . . . it's no secret. We know how we can win the ballgame. Now the question is going out and doing it for 48 minutes."
Jackson said he will not concern himself with fouls or minutes, that he will play whomever he believes gives the team the best chance to succeed, for however long they are on the court.
Center Jermaine O'Neal sustained a bone bruise on his right knee in Game 6 but insists he'll be on the court Saturday night.
[RELATED: Wounded O'Neal to give it a go in Game 7]
"Game 7 in the NBA playoffs is what it's all about," the 18-year veteran said. "And trying to win in somebody else's building is the ultimate challenge. Me and my teammates have to really (embrace) that challenge. I'm going to give it my all, whatever that is. Hopefully everybody on this roster does the same thing."
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Stephen Curry vs. Paul. Curry has won some battles, and so has Paul. Curry will try to make Paul work on defense, in hopes it bothers his offense. This is a game within the game, two point guards competing for supremacy.
Draymond Green vs. Griffin. Since moving into the starting lineup in Game 4, Green has done a fine job of making Griffin uncomfortable. His shooting percentage is down and so is his impact. It's a like a middleweight giving fits to a heavyweight.
David Lee vs. DeAndre Jordan. Lee sacrificed numbers in Game 6 to minimize Jordan's affect on the game. It worked. That will be tougher to do with Jordan on his home court.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Paul's hamstring has been an issue. Because it's the playoffs, he's trying to tough it out. Can he stay on the floor and effective for most of the game?
INJURY REPORT: For the Warriors, C Jermaine O'Neal (right knee bone bruise) says he will play. C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery rehab) is doubtful, but Jackson did not rule out the possibility he could play.
For the Clippers, F Hedo Turkoglu (hairline fracture of transverse process in lower back) is doubtful.