The Los Angeles Clippers would not be the first team in sports or the National Basketball Association for that matter to have something to rally around during a run through the playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers once rallied around the “three-peat” and the Detroit Pistons took the ‘Bad Boys’ label and embraced it.
Over the last week, the Clippers have endured more than most professional basketball teams should have to and Saturday they put a positive finish to it. With a 126-121 win over the Golden State Warriors, the Clippers shelved a lot of demons and advanced to the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
By now, you know the story of how their owner Donald Sterling was banned for life by Commissioner Adam Silver following his racist comments. From the outside, we can make judgments about how it shouldn’t have affected them all that much but that’s just it; we are on the outside.
From most reports, the situation took an extremely heavy toll on Doc Rivers. Coaches sleep very little during the NBA Playoffs as it is but Rivers admitted he slept even less this week. He and his players were inundated with requests for radio, television and print interviews in greater numbers than any of them had ever experienced.
I’m certainly in no position to make judgments about just how bad or how over exaggerated the situation was because I’m not there and most of you aren’t either.
For one evening however the Clippers brought something back to their fans and probably themselves which was a sense of normalcy. The crowd, as it was in game five, was bonkers and ready to celebrate a win for themselves and for their team. The best part was that at least for that evening, talk of Donald Sterling had subsided.
Whether this team rides this emotional roller coaster to an NBA Title is unknown. At the very least, they’ve stayed above the fray and will continue to give their fans a reason to be proud for the time being.
Going into yesterday’s games, I felt very comfortable with my selections. I had Dallas getting the points and winning out-right while I had the Raptors covering at home. As you know by now, I was right in picking one home team and one away team it’s just that I had the wrong ones.
Led by Tony Parker’s 32 points, the San Antonio Spurs got out early and never looked back in a 119-96 win over Dallas. The game-seven win sends the Spurs to the Western Conference semi-finals where they’ll play the Portland Trail Blazers. I have to admit that I was duped.
I really thought the Mavericks had the Spurs right where they wanted them and with Dirk Nowitzki’s success in games sevens (4-0) I thought it to almost be a lock. As Lee Corso says, “Not so fast my friend.”
Earlier in the day, the Brooklyn Nets and their plethora of playoff experience went north to Canada to play the Toronto Raptors in game seven of their series. I really thought the Raptors and their home crowd would pull out the win but it wasn’t to be.
Paul Pierce blocked a last-second shot by Kyle Lowry to preserve the 104-103 win. The Nets will now advance to the Eastern Conference semi-finals where the Miami Heat await. Brooklyn won all four meetings with the defending champions this regular season.
The playoffs are always a different animal but I can’t recall a first round with so many games that went in the complete opposite direction of the way I saw them. It comes with the business but still…