Sunday, May 4, 2014

Game Sevens, Part The First: Two Coronations And A Classic

The Real Prime Ticket
I'm so sorry to see the first round end, but end it must... and if tonight's games had happened earlier, there's no way things would have gone this long. If you get what I mean.

In the early game, the Pacers got a 30-point effort from Paul George, something approaching ordinary center play from shockingly bad Roy Hibbert, and D'd up on the three-happy Hawks (44 attempts?), who didn't make enough to seriously threaten for their third road win of the series. The Pacers move on to become the first #1 seed ever that absolutely no one likes against the 5 seed. That'll be the Wizards, who are younger, more confident, rested and ready to make much more noise. The Pacers are just happy to get to a round where defeat isn't historic, but maybe they'll stop playing with hands wrapped around their throats now. At least they've got a home court again, and Larry Bird to stop making that face.

In the middle, Memphis came out small and looked good for a quarter, with 36 points, surprisingly good ball movement, and a hyper-aggro Marc Gasol leading the way. But in the first ever interesting end of quarter coach interview, Memphis' Dave Joerger openly speculated whether his shock move would keep working, and, well, it didn't. Kevin Durant was efficient from the field, Russell Westbrook filled up the scorecard with a volume triple double, and OKC put up almost 1.5X the number of points they got earlier in the series, because the Grizz aren't anything dangerous when they aren't killing you with their bigs. I don't think I can remember a series that changed more from Game Five to Game Seven, and OKC moves on, without even a rest issues, since their dance partner is also going the distance.

And with that, we get to what we all want to see; Dubs-Clips, Game Seven, and I'm going to Diary Wire it, because there isn't going to be a game I want to remember more this year. Indulge me.

* * * * *

Back to back threes from Klay Thompson and Draymond Green for the hot start 6-0 lead. Terrible follow and miss from David Lee, the worst player on the floor for much of the series for GST. Chris Paul with vintage dancing; good sign for LAC. GST with interior ball moves for a stuff. Lee gets Griffin's first foul n a screen and roll. Two Clipper turns in the first three minutes. DeAndre Jordan misses two FTs, no o-board. Lee gets Jordan's first foul on a drive. Thompson with another three; little from Stephen Curry so far. Dubs up nine early, but can't keep sharp with the ball; six turns in seven minutes. Yeesh. After everyone fouled out of Game Six, refs have put the whistles away in this one so far; amen. Draymond Green getting acclaim. Jordan Crawford in, turns it, gets it back off a Green turn on Griffin, scores. Too much static Griff so far for the Clips. Lead goes to 10, Clip crowd worried. Paul ends the quarter with Griffin at the arc, hesitation miss. Dubs 32, Clips 22, 9-1 run to end it for the road team.

The Clip bench has outplayed the Dubs by a lot in this series... so Marc Jackson keeps Curry in to start the second. Jermaine O'Neal in for the first time, with a deep bone bruise, courtesy of Bruiser Baby Davis in Game Six. Curry up to 12 with FTs, largest home deficit of the series, and a Curry three just misses. All kinds of weak offense from the Clips so far, with O'Neal taking a charge. Green turns it, 14 total turns so far. Darren Collison gets to the line and makes two. Curry out. Dub Crawford with the bad miss, Andre Iguodala blocks Danny Granger's three, but yet another Dub turn leads to JJ Redick's three. Ouch. O'Neal with no lift left, blocked easily at the rim. Bad Baby Davis misses; I will always hate his game. Dubs call time after a lay up; 5 point game and the Dub bench fails again.

Game slugs along with the Dub offense showing cracks, but Iguodala's doing things with the corner three. Clip Crawford makes, Curry misses a stop-start lay-up, Griffin converts, but Green from the arc, then Clip Crawford for the 4-point play. All in about a minute. What a series. It's as if we can't go a game without seeing a 4-point play, honestly. 13th made 4-pointer in the first 2 weeks; 2 point game. Iggy with a mid-range make, and this is the Iggy they wanted in the off-season. Clips miss a lob, Lee misses a jumper, Iggy gets his first foul with 5 minutes left in the half on Redick, who finally misses one, and is now 16 for 17 in the series. Marresse Speights with a make down low; wonder if Jackson will go to him over Lee late. Jamal Crawford with the bad possession bailout three. Thommpson misses from the corner, and Paul senses the moment and makes for the tie. Speights gets the lead back, Paul misses, Lee converts off scramble and flop. Dubs with just a 4-point lead despite shooting the lights out.

Griffin with two makes after commerce, 2 point game. Curry with an eye-opening three from the top. Paul to Griffin to Jordan to flush. Speights with a long deuce off pick and roll. Lee's second on Jordan, he makes the second with a bank. Griffin blocks Speights and then tells him about it; tasty. Speights misses from 20, but Clipper Crawford with the panicky turn. Lee to Speights, who makes and gets Jordan's second foul. Miss and it's six. Paul misses a hurried lay up for the 2 for 1. Speights misses, volleyballs out to Curry, who makes the most insane 4-pointer of the playoffs. Good. Lord. Paul's foul, and that's just pure highlight reel right there. 10 point game. Griffin dunks off weak Dub Defense. Curry makes a bank from past center court, and he's just ridiculous right now; it misses the buzzer, but, um, giggles. Dubs 64, Clips 56 at the half, 15-7 Dub run to end the half.

Starting the third, Redick's triple cuts it to five as we go to Grind Mode. Iggy long deuce, miss, terrible choice. Griffin to Jordan for the cake lob, but Lee gets it back off penetration. Clip airball, but Curry's heat check three is a miss. Great hands by Thompson, but Iggy carries it, and he's doing too much. Dubs are their own worst enemy. Matt Barnes misses against a zone, and Curry gets to the rim against Barnes. It's reviewed for flagrant because Barnes is an infamous thug, then rescinded. Two makes pushes it to seven as Reggie Miller pules about his post-game plans. God, I hate Reggie Miller. Barnes misses the corner three. Jordan rejects Green as Griffin can't get clear, then Griffin makes in heavy traffic and contact with Lee. Paul dances and makes at the end of the clock; he doesn't look right, but he's still great. Curry misses from the line. Paul plows Curry for a block call as the Clips are showing signs of close. Two makes, and it's a 1-point game. And what a game.

Speights over three guys from the top of the paint. Paul looking hot as he gets a call on Speights. Jordan boards Griffin's miss and feeds Barnes for a dunk. Speights saves Green's missed three, and Thompson loses it on fear of Jordan on a drive. Bad possession by the Clips, but Redick saves it; first Clipper lead of the night. Thompson misses and the physical play is wearing out the Dubs. Barnes makes an open one from Paul, and the crowd is fully invested. 12-2 Clipper run, and a 3-point lead. This kind of play is what you should get in a Game Seven, and why the Clips were favored.

Gut check time for the Dubs. They get a whistle, then a Thompson make with degree of difficulty. Redick answers it right away, and easier. Iggy misses the 45-degree angle three, not his shot, but gets bailed out by a Griffin brush. Dumb play by Griff, but more monitor time for the refs, who see that Griff actually pawed him in the junk. Eek. Iggy's a bad FT shooter, and is lucky to get one. Terrible turn for the Curry dunk and tie; Clips lost focus there. Redick misses a three as Speights gets away with a shove on Griff. Paul and Iggy get into each other, Iggy gets pinballed into Griffin, the call is on Iggy. Paul owns a guy and makes. Clip Crawford gets the turn for the Clips, and it ends in a Griff tap to Redick for the three. 5 point game for the home team, and Thompson turns it again. Slowly but surely, the better team is putting in distance.

Griffin gets it in the paint, then the line on a Green trip. Given the no-whistle nature of this game, plenty of opportunities if the Dubs want to start hacking. One of two made, six point game. Curry from forever, miss, bad offense. Redick can't make, Green deep to Thompson to bring it back to four. Crawford abuses Crawford, Dub miss, Griffin spins, heaves and pules for a call that isn't happening tonight. No three pointers for the Dubs in this half. Dub Crawford miss, Paul owns it, but Green gets a three to go to staunch, if not stop, the bleeding. Collison misses an open look. Curry gets to the line against Jordan for the 2-for-1, and that's his fourth. Maybe a big play. Two makes brings it back to three, the second lucky. Crawford barely misses, the heave isn't by Curry and misses, and it's Clips 87, Dubs 84 at the end of the third. Buckle up.

Clips don't lose when they have a third quarter lead... but Crawfords score on both sides, with the Dub's Jordan adding a FT to cut it to 2. Clip Craw misses on the 4-point attempt, and Barnes hacks Lee on a nice look from Green at the rim. Third on the dirtbag, and Lee makes both for the tie. Dubs have to be happy to have weathered the run. Drunken Seal Davis misses down low on contact, and Dub Crawford rains it in from distance, and wow. 92-89 for the low seed.

Jackson openly citing his job status in the huddle; you get the feeling he taped that three times to give the TNT cameras options. A make as we deal with Not Game; Dub Crawrod misses. Collison with Hero Ball Miss, and GST with the team board. Dubs overpass, but Crawford with the crazy body control tip and make. Late whistle puts Clip Crawford on the line, Green's fourth. Kind of weak, given what else has been let go, but Ball Don't Lie, and it's 94-93 with 9 minutes left. Lee with the bad jumper, a shot the Clips are glad to allow. Barnes with the corner three, 2-point game for the Clips. Lee turns it, Griffin scores with a straight arm on Green. 7-0 Clipper run and time out, roadies.

Curry in Hero Moade, gets to the line after a lot of dribbling. Third on Griffin, and the Dub PG was clearly going for Jordan. Two makes gets it back to two. Paul with the straight on man three, and the Clips get a Curry turn. Griffin's fourth as Curry gets a bit dinged under the rim; worrisome. Curry not looking good on the next play. Refs don't know who turned it, as replay shows it was Thompson. Jump goes to the Clips. Paul, way too easy drive and score. 7 point game. Curry to the rack and scores; wow. Curry steal on Clip Crawford, and Thompson is tripped by Paul for the PG's first. Two Thompson makes, back to 3 with 6:20 left. Zone for the Dubs, a bit desperate, but Paul misses. Thompson gets Barnes in the air for his fourth. Two makes by Klay makes it 103-102, Clips. Clips Crawford with the big answer three ends the mini run. Dub Crawford gets a Jordan goaltend, easy call as Rivers emotes. Lee's third on a toss into Griffin. Clips Crawford misses a bad long deuce idea. Iggy banks it from 25 at the end of clock, Dubs lead. Scramble ball that Iggy loses, and that could have been a mini-run out. 107-106 with 4:16 left. What a game, what a series. I just hope the ending is as good as the first 44 minutes.

Warriors are shooting 60% from the field and have a one point lead. Good Lord. Paul drives, and Green ENDS him with a monster block, leading to a shot clock violation. Another wow moment. Thompson three misses. Paul to Jordan for a power dunk; ye gads. Clips lead. Iggy misses the float. Three minutes left. Iggy stops Clips Craw, leading to a jump ball with 5 seconds on the shot clock. Clips taking too much clock on the last few possessions; both teams getting tight. Jawing. Dubs win the tip for the turn. Lee blocked by Griffin, then turns it. Hate. His. Game. Redick misses the three, Curry boards, and gets a Paul foul in transition. He makes both and gives the Dubs the lead again, 109-108. 2:22 left.

Griffin muscles to the cup with alacrity; impressive. Curry to the cup, Jordan stalks and ends him, leading to a Griffin dunk on the other end. Clips 112, Dubs 109, 1:54 left. Green misses the three attempt to tie, Clips board. Paul runs clock, then it's Jordan converting his miss; 5 point game. Curry in a hurry, gets to the line, good idea. Two makes gets it back to a three point Clipper lead with 1:12 left. Slow clock, but Griffin gets to the rim and hits under heavy contact; that might be the killshot. Green's fifth foul, and after the miss, it's 116-111 with 54.8 seconds left. I don't love Griffin's game, but that was world class (including the gymnastics-esque dismount), and unless the Dubs can make some Arc Magic happen, this series might be over. (Sniff.)

Curry tries circus action, and it leads to Green's board and Griffin's fifth foul. Ball Don't Lie on the weak call; Green misses the first, makes the second. 46.4 left. Dubs have missed their last seven shots. Paul runs clock. Redick makes as Curry falls, but before the game goes to Over, Curry gets the 3-point foul call on Paul. Curry's 14th, 15th, and 16th makes from the line make it 118-115 with 30.2 left. Griffin dribbles easily, lobs to Jordan, dunk, and that defensive lack of awareness is why Dub management thinks about a non-Mark Jackson future. The Clips oversell Curry comically, leading to Green with all kinds of time and space at the arc; his three trickles in, and it's 120-118 with 13 seconds left. Wow.

Redick gets to the line as Green fouls out; hell of a series for the young man. Redick's a monster at the line, and he makes both; that's something like the fourth or fifth kill shot in this quarter by the Clips, and one of them has to stick, right? Curry misses the three, Paul gets the board, and I'm just sorry it has to end. Paul makes both, and if this man ever got through a playoff season healthy, the title might go to the Clips after all. Curry with a rage against the dying of the light three, because he's that way. Foul with 2.0 left; if Collison makes either, it's over. He makes the first for no drama, and the second for funsies. Doc Rivers lets some emotion out. Iguodala fires the ball out of the arena. I understand, Iggy, I do. Clippers 126, Warriors 121.

As always, the better team won, and in a far better world -- one, say, that doesn't seed the west against itself, and allows them to purge the NBA of all of the garbage teams from the East -- this would have been for much more than a first round win. And it seems amazing to say it, but their next series against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook won't be half as much fun as this one.

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