The Los Angeles Clippers were given pretty much the worst draw possible in this year’s NBA Playoffs. They were forced to play against the ageless, defending champion-Spurs in the first round, then play the winner of the Mavericks-Rockets series. After Houston cruised to a five-game series victory over Dallas, the Clippers were tasked with getting to the second round a year after making it to the Western Conference semis. They were able to complete that task.
The Clippers, led by a limping, hamstring-impaired Chris Paul, won a thrilling game seven Saturday night, a night in which they were overshadowed by the boxing fight of the century and the running of the Kentucky Derby.
Paul hit a brilliant runner over the leaping hands of Tim Duncan with just 1.0 second on the clock, and the Spurs’ following inbounds play failed to generate a tying basket as LA held on for the victory.
The back and forth game saw 31 lead changes and 16 ties with neither team winning by more than eight points at a time. This game will go down as one of the greatest game sevens in sports history, and it was Chris Paul and the Clippers that pulled it out over a team that had won the Western Conference each of the past two years.
Paul was forced to leave the game late in the first quarter due to a hamstring strain, an injury that can get very bad if not rested immediately. But for the point guard, there was no time for rest, so he went back into the game and limped his way to the finish while still shooting 9-13 from the field and gathering six assists.
The Clippers, a team that has had their struggles in the postseason and has gotten their fair share of criticism for it, showed that they can make a deep playoff run if they continue to play like this.
But the concern is Paul’s hamstring. The team trainers won’t let him continue to limp around on it, and if it ends up getting torn, then he is definitely out. Coach Doc Rivers said that he is “very concerned” about the injury, and that could end up limiting Los Angeles to only two rounds again in their upcoming series against the second-seed Rockets.
The loss could mean bad news for Spurs fans. Although San Antonio played about as well as they could, the elimination could mean a looming retirement from longtime power forward Duncan, 39, despite his above-average series.
The Clippers may have gotten the short end of the stick in their first round matchup, but they showed that they are a force to be reckoned with after defeating Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Harrison HammC