#5 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 82 @ #4 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES 72
WEST 1st Round * Game 7 * Clippers WIN series, 4-3
This was not a pretty game. It was a slugfest, a brickfest... but it was Game 7 where everything was on the line for both teams.
We waited for the stars to shine brighter in that Sunday afternoon game. Was Chris Paul going to take over? Were the Memphis bigs going to dominate?
The Grizzlies and Clippers traded blows for three quarters. In many ways, it was unbelievable that the Clippers decided to trade blows instead of going the Lob City route that many people wanted to see. But it was something else that put the Clippers over the top.
The Clipper bench. You know, a bunch of castoffs and extras that anybody hardly cared about. The only familiar constant there was Mo Williams. Yet it was Williams, Kenyon Martin, Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Evans, and Nick Young that got the Clippers the duke.
They set the tone at the start of the fourth quarter (then 56-55, Memphis) with buckets from Kenyon Martin and a ridiculous, ill-advised Nick Young fastbreak corner 3. They never relinquished the lead after that. The Clippers battled everywhere defensively and each basket by the Clippers became more and more important. A Mo Williams 3 pretty much put the game away as that put them up, 71-61. All but two of the 27 points in the 4th were scored by a player off the bench. Memphis could only muster 16 points due to the Clippers' stingy defense. The Grizzlies decided to get jumpshot-happy and when they did go back inside, those points were hard to come by in the trenches.
Chris Paul led the Clippers with 19 points and 9 rebounds while Marc Garol and Rudy Gay for the Grizzlies had the same point tally as CP3. But Nick Young's 9 4th-period points out of his 13, Martin's 7 4th-quarter points out of his 11 (and 10 rebounds), Eric Bledsoe's 8 points, Mo Williams' 9 points, and Reggie Evans' 9 rebounds were all important and told the story.
As for Memphis, it's a bit disappointing. They were one win away from the Conference Finals last year. This year, they got beat in their own game by an up-and-coming team that is trying to make a mark not only in their own city but in the whole league as well.
As for the Clippers? This was a historic game and a historic series for the franchise. They will keep their eyes peeled forward and will not look back at the messy past that has haunted the Clippers for decades.
#3 INDIANA PACERS 86 @ #2 MIAMI HEAT 95
EAST Semifinals * Game 1 * Heat lead series, 1-0
The Pacers got off to a fast start, determined to give Miami an impression that they are not going to go down easily. It was 13-4 early in the first quarter.
It got a little dicey when Chris Bosh went down with a groin injury in the second quarter. The Heat were going to have to go on without their third best player and big that can take on Indiana's frontline.
No problem. The Heat still had the league's MVP, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade. They weren't going to let them lose... and the Heat tandem outscored the Pacers in the second half, 42-38. But it was the final stretch that ultimately ended the Pacers. They would only score one point in the last 4:50 as the Heat duo made big plays from both ends.
The three-time MVP scored 32 points and pulled down 15 boards while Wade had 29 points. David West finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds while Indy's All-Star center, Roy Hibbert, had 17 points and 11 boards. Danny Granger had a rough go at it. He only shot 1 for 10 and finished with 7 points. Granger also had the unenviable task of defending James.
Bosh's groin injury may keep him out of Game 2 so it may be a little rougher than expected for the Heat. Indiana, in the meantime, can play better and may make this series a little more interesting.
Tomorrow, another series opens.