There would be no chance of last year’s playoff failure repeating in San Antonio, with the Spurs completing a sweep of Utah despite a Jazz rally. Meanwhile, the thrilling Clippers-Grizzlies series took on another turn as the Clip Show snared a win on overtime against a gallant Grizzlies side, taking the series to 3-1 as the series heads back to Memphis for Game 5. The Grizzlies’ primary Achilles heel – their lack of consistent 3pt shooting – came back to bite them again as they dropped another game they probably can rightly say they deserved to win.
3 votes – Chris Paul. The best word for CP3 today? Masterful. Whenever he was on the court today he was running the show for the Clippers. The stats (27 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) don’t even tell the story. Everything this Clippers team does is about Chris Paul, and in these playoffs he’s found another gear. I’ve been watching him his entire career and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play this well. (Of course its possible that having good teammates around him helps…)
Either way, this is why I can’t count the Clippers out as legit contenders out of the West. As well as Kevin Durant is playing and as slick as the Spurs machine is…at this point in time, no one is playing smarter and better basketball than CP3. Combine that with Blake looking solid and the rest of the team playing their roles – while it’s more likely that something will go wrong (since they are, after all, the Clippers) it’s also not impossible that my pre-season Heat-Clippers finals pick could come to fruition.
Of course to get there they’ll have to go through the Spurs. Speaking of which…
2 votes – Tiago Splitter. Hard to pick a single candidate from the Spurs here – this was a true team victory. In the end I decided to give Splitter the 2 points. I haven’t had the chance to see a lot of him in his NBA career, but I’m impressed with what I have seen. He’s going to be as capable a replacement for Tim Duncan as one could hope when the great man decides to hang up his shoes.
1 vote – Blake Griffin. As much as Chris Paul has stepped it up a notch these playoffs, so has Blake. He still has holes in his all-round game that need to improve – particularly his shooting and reads on defense – but today he even made his clutch free throws and was a constant presence. The Paul/Griffin combo is a real reason why the Clips are a legit threat.