2014 NBA Playoffs: Pacers, Thunder and Clippers advance to Conference Semis
Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers won their respective Game 7's to advance to the Conference Semis in the NBA Playoffs.
The most number of game 7′s played during the course of an entire Playoffs is five, and this post-season we have already had five game 7′s in the first round itself.
Here’s the wrap-up of the three games on Saturday night:
(1) Indiana Pacers vs (8) Atlanta Hawks (Indiana won 92-80, win series 4-3 and advance to Conference Semis)
Never has an eighth seeded team won a series against the first seed in a Game 7, and that record was kept intact by the Indiana Pacers with a performance very similar to their play in the early part of the season. The East’s top seeded team came through when it was most needed and won their first round series against the Hawks who broke the record for most three-pointers attempted in a Game and in a Playoff series.
It was a huge game for the Pacers because the Game 7 win not only kept their title hopes alive but also saw the re-emergence of the their All-Star center Roy Hibbert. Hibbert had struggled all series to make any impact on the game on either end of the floor, but in this game the story was different. He scored 8 points in the first 8 minutes of the game and later finished the game with personal highs for the series of 13 points, 7 rebounds and a game-changing 5 blocks.
On the back of a 23-13 second quarter and an 18-4 run to finish the first half, the Pacers showed ominous signs of the early season defensive form they displayed. Late in the third quarter the Hawks were ready to make a run to chip the lead away but failed as the hot hand of Paul Gereoge kept having the answer for every dagger they dropped. He finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds, the sixth double-double in 7 games for the Pacers.
Despite 17 turnovers, the Pacers played a style of play which suited them more, restricting the Hawks to just 30.4 shooting percentage from the field and outscoring them in the paint 18-6. Lance Stephenson’s double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds was also a key performance alongside David West’s quiet contribution of 13 rebounds and 6 blocks.
Meanwhile for the relegated Hawks Paul Millsap had another huge rebounding night with 17 rebounds, while also scoring 15. Point Guard Jeff Teague had only 16 points for which George’s defence deserves huge credit.
Paul George’s domination in Game 7:
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (7) Memphis Grizzlies (Oklahoma City won 120-109, win series 4-3 and advance to the Conference Semis)
OKC were heavily favoured to win this bout as the Grizzlies entered game 7 all banged up with injuries and suspensions. Zach Randolph was suspended for a game for punching Thunder’s center Steven Adams, Mike Conley played the entire game with a strained hamstring and back up point guard Nick Calathes has been banned for 20 games for not abiding by the league’s drug usage policy.
Thunder took time to adjust to the Grizzlies’ new flourishing starting line-up which had all shooters surrounding Marc Gasol as the only big man, but they went on a 34-22 run to turn a nine-point deficit into a three-point lead at half-time. For the remaining portion of the game Thunder closed down the Grizzlies with their defence and never game them a chance to make another run.
Kevin Durant backed up his 36 point and 10 rebound performance in Game 6 with a 33 point, 8 rebound showing while shooting 5 for 5 from beyond the three point line. Russell Westbrook became only the second player to record a triple-double in a Game 7 after Rajan Rondo, recording 27 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists in 36 minutes played.
On the other hand, in the absence of Zach Randolph the Grizzlies relied on center Marc Gasol offensively and he answered the call, posting 24 points while dishing 6 dimes. Despite the strained hamstring Conley contributed handsomely with 20 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals.
Westbrook’s triple double highlights:
(3) Los Angeles Clippers vs (6) Golden State Warriors (Clippers won 126-121, win series 4-3 and advance to Conference Semis)
The Clippers move on to the Conference Semis for only the third time since their franchise moved to Los Angeles after an emotional win over the Golden State Warriors in game 7 in what has been an amazing series on the court despite the off-court controversy surrounding this series.
On the road it was the Warriors who had the first punch as they went into the locker room for half-time with an 8-point lead on the back of their incredible three-point shooting – 9 of 13 (69%). But the Clippers used a 12-2 run in the third quarter to get right back into the game.
The Warriors answered once again with an 11-3 run in the fourth quarter but came up short when it mattered the most in the closing minutes of the game, mainly due to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan’s play in the fourth.
Clippers rode on double-doubles from point guard Chris Paul (22 points and 14 assists) and center Jordan (15 points and 18 rebounds). A notable contribution was that of Jamal Crawford, who had 22 points off the Clipper bench. Griffin had 24 points and 6 assists, including a few handy ones late in the game.
Meanwhile for the Warriors Stephen Curry led the way with a near double-double performance of 33 points and 9 assists, and David Lee recorded a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Warriors shot an eye-opening 56% on three pointers for the game but still fell short in the end in a series where the better team prevailed.
The players respecting each other after a playing out a series which did not lack anything:
Top 10 Plays of the Day
On a night of Game 7′s there were too many plays to choose from, so here are the top 10 plays of the day: