We saw two spectacular, record-breaking games last night. Remember how these were labeled the boring matchups? Forget that, both promise amazing games to come. The 76ers heard the boos and picked their game up, and Lou Williams led the Clippers to a spectacular comeback.
Nets 123 – 144 76ers
1 : 1
The 76ers lost in dramatic fashion, and Embiid and Simmons were booed off the court by Philly fans. It’s not just the fact they are the favorites in the series, but it was the fashion in which they lost. There was no plan; the 76ers looked lost on the court while the Nets pounded them.
Lesson learned we saw a different team last night. All 13 players on the roster scored, and while the team posted a franchise record for points in the playoffs, only Embiid put up over 20 points, 23 to be precise. That wasn’t even the most impressive record of the night for Philly. In a Warrioresque third quarter, the 76ers put up 51 points, setting a new record for points scored in a quarter, running away with the game.
Despite the ugly loss, going to Brooklyn with a win puts Nets in a better position than expected. It is unreasonable for the 76ers to have another shooting performance as they did in the third quarter tonight, and the other seven quarters showed they are very much in this series, getting in their opponent’s heads.
Embidd’s knee issues remain the most significant question mark in this series. Joel missed a lot of games after the All-Star break and is obviously moving with difficulty. If the Nets can put pressure on him in Brooklyn, this may not be the only outburst we see out of him.
Clippers 135 – 131 Warriors
1 : 1
It’s hard to stay motivated and avoid hubris when you are the indisputable champion. This is where teams playing against the Warriors need to find their chance, as proven by the Clippers last night. One image will demonstrate all you need to know about the game.
The Warriors were at 99.9% win probability because no team has ever blown a 31 point lead in a playoff game. Another lousy record to have, right next to the 3-1 Finals lead. If you were to determine their most significant flaw in all these years of dominance, it would be their turnovers. The Warriors are sloppy with the ball, even more so when it seems the game is in the bag.
The Clippers didn’t lose faith and refused to give up. They used the Warriors arrogance, Beverly did an amazing job annoying everyone on the court (Durant fouled out in the 4th quarter), and then the Clippers unleashed the most clutch guy in the NBA right now.
Williams just couldn’t miss, but we shouldn’t overlook Harrel’s performance in the 4th quarter. He dominated the glass and made crucial free throws in the miraculous comeback.
P.S. Boogie Cousins got injured and his season is probably over. While running on a fast break, he just collapsed with what the team suspects to be a torn quad. We will know more after an MRI that is scheduled today.