2014 NBA Playoffs Conference Semis: Clippers even series, Pacers go ahead 3-1
The Clippers-Thunder and the Pacers-Wizards match-ups have been very alike so far with the both series at 2-1 before last night and the higher seeds coming back after losing the first game, but their commanding performances in Game 3 had made Game 4 a must win for the Clippers and Wizards to avoid facing elimination on the road in Game 5.
The Clippers managed to achieve that while the Wizards, still in search of their first Playoff second round home win, will be facing elimination at the Bankers Life Field House, Indiana’s home court.
Here’s a recap of the two games:
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (3) Los Angeles Clippers (Los Angeles won 101-99, series tied 2-2)
Those present at the Staples Center Sunday night watching this game were witness to one of the greatest ever comebacks in Playoff history when the Clippers beat the Thunder to level the series despite 40 points for regular season MVP Kevin Durant. Initially trailing by 22 midway through the first quarter, the Clippers repeatedly kept chipping away at the Thunder lead, but never led until the final minute of the game which they converted into a win.
In a contest between the two of the best offenses in the league, the Clippers won this game on the merit of their defense. The sharp mind of Head Coach Doc Rivers, realizing that Durant and Russell Westbrook (27 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists) were going strong, created mismatches on the floor making it uneasy for the Thunder on offense. The biggest mismatch of them all was putting Chris Paul on Kevin Durant.
Paul (23 points and 10 assists), with his stronger and smaller body, made it tough for Durant to find good looks at the basket without losing his balance, and Durant’s drought during this period rocked the Thunder offense as Westbrook wasn’t making his shots either.
However, an unlikely fourth quarter hero on a team led by Paul and Blake Griffin was back-up point guard Darren Collison who scored 12 of his 18 points, converting 4 of 6 from the field and making all of his free throws in the final period. Collison was part of Rivers’ small line-up with Griffin playing the 5 spot which eventually snatched victory for the Clippers.
Griffin (25 points and 9 rebounds) is always a factor in any game against any opponent, but caught a lot of attention in Game 4, as he played the final 8 of the game with 5 fouls. But not only did he not receive his sixth foul, he also worked his way to 10 points during that span of time.
The Thunder have a great flow on offense, but have struggled down the stretch late in games more than once (before in the series with the Memphis Grizzlies) when the opposition makes an adjustment. Heading home, the Thunder would be determined to bounce back and go up 3-2 in the series, while the Clippers would want to win Game 5 on the road to have a chance of wrapping up the series at home.
The Clippers’ comeback highlights led by Chris Paul and Darren Collison
(1) Indiana Pacers vs (5) Washington Wizards (Indiana won 95-92, Indiana lead series 3-1)
The Pacers are now one win away from the match-up they have waited for right from last season’s Game 7 defeat in the Eastern Conference Finals – a series with the Miami Heat once again in the Conference Finals (assuming that the Heat beat the Brooklyn Nets). The Pacers have now won three consecutive games in the series and have the chance to wrap it up at home in Game 5.
Paul George ( Playoff career high 39 points and 12 rebounds), who was 12 of 20 on shooting from the field and 7 of 10 from the 3-point line in 46 minutes of playing time, along with Roy Hibbert (17 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks) helped the Pacers erase a 17 point Wizard lead in the third quarter, scoring 43 of Indiana’s 57 points in the second half.
However, on the back of a fourth quarter run the Wizards led again by 10 in the fourth, but the Pacers did not flinch, something very unlike the Pacers team we have seen recently or in the past series. With the help of David West ( 14 points and 8 assists), Indiana once again closed down the gap and in the closing minutes snatched the game behind some sloppy play by the inexperienced Wizards team.
At halftime in the locker room and mid-way through the fourth quarter, Washington would have believed they had this game in their grasp, especially considering how their bench was playing, contributing 32 points led by Al Harrington with 11 and Drew Gooden with 10 as compared to just 2 from the Pacers bench, an area of concern for Indiana if they are seriously considering defeating the Heat in the next round given the Heat beat the Nets.
Meanwhile for the Wizards, starters John Wall (12 points and 7 assists) and Bradley Beal (20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists) were aggressive, but hesitated on taking open long shots after their team’s struggles in Game 3. Trevor Ariza came the closest to recording a double-double with 16 points and 9 rebounds, but was a team low -22 in the +/- category.
George leading his team to a commanding 3-1 lead in the series
Despite the loss Wall with his fancy layup leads the Top 5 plays of the day: