OAKLAND -- For almost any other coach, this would be a time to deny, duck, dodge and deflect any discussion of a potentially imminent dismissal.

No distractions, all laser focus, it's playoff time!

But for Mark Jackson? That's his late-series motivational ace in the hole, of course.

Jackson's point of emphasis to his players as their playoff lives have been pushed to the brink: Enjoy what's happening now because this group won't be kept together when the playoffs are over.

That's how Jackson prepped his team to successfully charge into their Game 6 elimination moment on Thursday, and that's the rhetorical drumbeat for Saturday's titanic decisive Game 7 against the Clippers in Los Angeles.

Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson during their game against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first quarter of Game 3 of their Western Conference
Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson during their game against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first quarter of Game 3 of their Western Conference NBA playoff game at Oracle Arena in Oakland on April 24, 2014. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Just keep this thing going for as long as you can because when it ends it will be all over.

"This team will never be together again," forward Draymond Green said at team headquarters before the Warriors flew to L.A. "Even if it's one or two guys, teams are always looking to make improvements. ...

"We have to continue to fight so we can spend as much time together as we can."

Now it should be pointed out that Warriors management has not commented about Jackson's future, and I've reported several times that no decision has been made on it.

At the end of the season, Jackson could stay, he could go or he could be asked to make changes on his staff that would nudge him to want to go.


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It's all up in the air, that's the point, and most coaches would want that chatter as far away from his players as possible.

But Jackson is never one to pass up a chance to super-charge the emotions of his locker room, and he is broadcasting it all now from every loudspeaker he can find.

"I'm fighting for my life," Jackson said after Game 6 on Thursday. "My guys are fighting for their basketball lives this year.

"One thing I told the guys this morning, this group will never be together again, our group. So we've got to do whatever it takes to find a way to prolong this thing, to find a way to advance. Don't rob ourselves."

Through six tumultuous games, this series has already taken six hard turns and maybe Jackson's rhetorical summons is enough to turn it one last time all the way to the Game 7 finish line.

This series took a turn even before it started, when Andrew Bogut suffered a cracked rib near the end of the regular season, removing the Warriors' fiercest inside defender.

Then it turned when the Warriors rose up to shock the Clippers in Game 1 at Staples Center.

It turned again when the Clippers stomped the Warriors in Game 2 and took control of the series by winning Game 3 at Oracle Arena.

It turned again -- the whole league turned -- when an audio tape of Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist statements was released not long before Game 4, which the Clippers lost miserably.

It turned again after NBA commissioner Adam Silver suspended Sterling for life and took steps towards ending his ownership, and the Clippers responded hours later by winning Game 5.

And it turned again when the Clippers' Chris Paul couldn't get to top speed Thursday, and the Warriors gritted out a slugfest victory in Game 6.

Jackson is betting his team will keep the momentum and keep fighting for him and to keep this going -- that the last turn will be the one that decides this incredible series.

"It's a fact -- this team won't be the same team next year," Jackson said. "Meaning, there will be a draft choice. There will be a guy that signs somewhere else.

"We'll add coaches. Something is going to take place where this group will not be together."

Realistically, if Jackson is brought back, he will be asked to change his staff. Which he may or may not agree to do.

Also, there could and probably will be trades, signings and player releases, as there are every offseason.

No team is ever exactly the same as it was the season before; and few teams are as bonded as this current Warriors team, mostly thanks to their belief in Jackson.

So, obviously, the biggest wild card is the decision on Jackson himself.

"Just like everyone else that hears Coach Jackson is on the hot seat and everything, we hear the same thing," Green said. "We're not away from the world. We see everything everyone else hears. Until that happens, we'll continue to battle for him."

Jackson knows that, is counting on that, and is using it as his greatest motivational weapon, aimed right at the Clippers and at whoever else wants to line up against him right now.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.

  • Mark Jackson says pressure is on Clippers. PAGE 6

  • Jermaine O'Neal is questionable for Game 7. PAGE 6