The Los Angeles Clippers have evened their series with the San Antonio Spurs, winning 114-105 on the road to make it 2-2, in a playoff battle that should have happened a bit further down the road.
But the seeding system is what it is, and that can only be fixed in the offseason, if Adam Silver (who needs the owners to agree) is brave enough. For now, we’ll just have to enjoy a fantastic first round series, the best of its kind this year, that’s going to at least two more games as the Clippers bring things back to day zero of the playoffs thanks to a big win.
While Chris Paul was the best player in this game, scoring 34 points and handing out 7 assists, not afraid to keep on playing like he’s not carrying five personal fouls late in the game, Austin Rivers is the surprise hero, someone who Paul said deserves the game ball. Rivers is often ridiculed, even by his own teammates, but it turns out that from time to time, he can shoot.
Rivers scored 16 points and didn’t seem like being in his first postseason series is affecting him. He combined for 31 along with Jamal Crawford as the Clippers put game 3 and the worst defeat in playoff history for the franchise and simply played fantastic, quick and resolute offense, not letting the Spurs push them around like they did previously.
After the compliments to Rivers for what might turn out to be a breakout performance (or simply a one-time thing), it comes back to Paul, who was unstoppable. The Clippers kept putting him in favorable matchups, or he himself was able to beat his first defender off the dribble and put himself in situations where the player guarding him was too big and slow to keep up. It either resulted in a wide open shot or Paul having a clear path to the basket, using it for layups or assists.
For the Spurs, bad shooting, despite the 105 points, unravelled their chances of putting their foot on the Clippers’ throat. They shot just 24% from beyond the arc, as Danny Green went 0-for-6 and Tiago Splitter finished with 0 points in 18 minutes. Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan can be depended on and it wasn’t a bad game for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili as well, but the Spurs needed more against a Clippers team playing so smoothly on offense.
The Clippers have never won a playoff series after going down 1-2, but DeAndre Jordan told his teammates that winning game 4 is going to decide this series. The Clippers are just as good as the Spurs when it comes to talent and even depth. But if there’s one team more prone to having absurd peaks and lows when it comes to execution, it’s them.