Good afternoon, folks. The Clippers are auditioning for Kevin Durant while playing against him. Let’s talk NBA Playoffs.
(5) Jazz – 93 @ (4) Rockets – 100 (HOU wins 4-1)
- The Utah Jazz’s wonky defensive scheme on James Harden finally met its inevitable doom. Utah managed to limit Harden to only 21-65 shooting from the field (32 percent) in games 3-5, but could never muster up enough offense of its own to take advantage of the quirky defense it employed.
- Through the first two games, Utah’s strategy was massacred in the form of 61 combined points courtesy of Harden, but they slowly adapted. They proved in the last three games that the idea of forcing Harden into the middle could work, but ONLY if you have a 7-foot Defensive Player of the Year candidate manning the middle. Golden State can’t replicate that. Neither can any other remaining team from the West. The Bucks might be the only team left that could possibly try it out if they somehow meet in the Finals.
- In the next round, whoever matches up with Houston will likely guard Harden straight up. Well, there definitely won’t be a defender riding his back and giving him a literal wide-open lane to the basket. The double-teams will be in full force, though.
(8) Clippers – 129 @ (1) Warriors – 121 (GSW leads 3-2)
- So let me get this straight… Six of the eight teams moving on to the second round have already been decided and the two-time defending champs aren’t one of them? Well, we can thank the heroics of Lou Williams (33 points and 10 assists) and Montrezl Harrell (24 points on 11-14 shooting) for that. The Clippers managed to hold off several late charged from the Warriors to steal a win at Oracle and force a Game 6 back in L.A. Patrick Beverley somehow pulled in 14 rebounds. Kevin Durant poured in 45 points. It was a weird game.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with six points, three rebounds, and three assists for the Clips.
- In actuality, this win was bigger for Houston than it was for the Clippers. As much as I would love for the Clippers to somehow steal two more wins and complete what would be the greatest comeback/upset in the history of, not just sports, but the entire recorded history of earth, that likely won’t be happening. But what forcing a Game 6 does do is give Houston an extra two days off. Since they finished off the Jazz Wednesday, Golden State still has to play again on Friday, giving more rest for Harden and especially Chris Paul. And if L.A. can force a Game 7? Then you’re gonna have one tired – and likely annoyed with each other – Warriors team going up against a fresh Rockets squad. Sign me up for seven games of that, please and thank you.
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (LAC)||129-121 W @ GSW||6||2-3 (0-1)||3||3||0||0||1||-6||19|
|DeMarcus Cousins (GSW)||121-129 L vs. LAC||DNP-Quad||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE NBA
8:00 (TNT): Nuggets (Lyles, Murray, Vanderbilt) @ Spurs (DEN leads 3-2)