The first round of the NBA Playoffs is officially over! The Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies finally finished their series yesterday, so it’s on to the second round. Of course, the Eastern Semifinals have already begun, but still. Let’s move onto the action.
Los Angeles Clippers 82, Memphis Grizzlies 72: Clippers Win Series 4-3
This game seven may not have had quite the same quality of play as the one the previous night, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Neither team even managed to shoot 39% from the field and they combined to go 4/30 from three, but the intensity and physicality of both teams provided enough entertainment to get by.
Interestingly, given that the Clippers’ achilles heel has always been their supposed lack of depth, it was their bench that bailed them out. Mo Williams went 0/5 in the first half and came back to hit all four of his shots in the second. Eric Bledsoe did his best Avery Bradley impression and provided a big spark when it looked like the Clippers were flagging. Nick Young hit a couple of big threes, Kenyon Martin followed up his excellent game six with an excellent game seven, putting up 11 and 10 off the bench, and Reggie Evans continued doing his Energizer Bunny thing. Chris Paul was really the only Clippers starter to do anything of note, scoring 19 and grabbing 9 rebounds, but kind of seemed off throughout the game. Probably because of his hip injury, I suppose.
On the other side, only Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay managed to score in double figures, both chipping in 19 points. Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and OJ Mayo shot a combined 6/36 from the field, so I think you now have a decent idea of why the Grizzlies only scored 72 points. When three of your five best players shoot 17% combined in a game seven, you’re probably not going to win that series.
Now the Clippers get to take on the San Antonio Spurs in what should be a compelling series, but a short one. It doesn’t really seem like the Clippers will be able to hang with San Antonio over the long haul.
Well, Indiana missed a golden chance here. Leading for much of the game with a chance to land a haymaker to the Heat’s collective jaw right out of the gate, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James proved too much for them to handle as they couldn’t execute down the stretch. Indiana now has to regroup and hope to bounce back in game two, lest they return home down 2-0, a likely death sentence against the Heat.
For the Heat, concerns are two-fold. The Pacers abused them inside, if not on the boards, for most of the game. Roy Hibbert and David West combined for 34 points and 23 rebounds on 50% shooting, while Tyler Hansbrough added 9 points of his own off the bench. This first concern is exacerbated by the second: the health of Chris Bosh. Bosh has an abdominal strain and figures to be out for the series, if not longer. And since Bosh is really Miami’s only decent big, the likes of Joel Anthony, Ronny Turiaf and a possibly-past-his-prime Udonis Haslem are going to have to step up big time. I’m skeptical.
But then again, as the Heat proved in the second half yesterday, when you have LeBron and Wade, the rest kind of takes care of itself. The Pacers will still be put to the test, even with Bosh on the sidelines.
Monday, May 14th: