Tonight history is going to be made. Er, well, more precisely, this afternoon history will be made. Either the Houston Rockets go to the Western Conference finals after being down 1-3 in this best of seven series; or the Los Angeles Clippers will go to the Western Conference finals for the first time EVER. Chris Paul could finally advance out of the second round, years into his storied and ball-punchingly whiney flopfestival of a career. Or James Harden will take his team much farther than former teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook did. For me, I'm not a fan of either of these two teams, and I really don't like the Golden State Warriors either. The only West team I could have easily rooted for was the Memphis Grizzlies -- and they are already out. So for me, a Utah Jazz fan and actual hater or other teams, I have to find the lesser of these three evils. And for me it's the Houston Rockets -- in a "the devil you know" type of analysis. Both the "Dubs" and "Lob City" are Cali teams in big markets that are on TV a lot -- even back when they were bad. They have star studded rosters and all the casual fans flock to them. Golden State has been absolutely awful for decades, and the Clippers have always been that. Having them go ahead and win a title in the modern era (GSW has a few from the bad old days) puts them ahead of the Jazz in franchise rankings. The Rockets, who have the worst fans in the league, are already ahead of the Jazz by some metrics, and to see them go to the NBA Finals again wouldn't diminish where Utah stands.
H-town is at home tonight, and have the momentum having won the last two games. It's difficult to win three in a row in the playoffs though, especially not when you are playing such a well formed team like the Clippers. Also, we can't forget that the Rockets have lost a game seven at home before, as recently as 2007 to the Jazz.
Game 7: Clippers (3-3) @ Rockets (3-3) -- 1:30 PM MT on ABC
Clippers Players (series stats):
- Blake Griffin (37.5 mpg) -- 26.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 4.7 rpg
- J.J. Redick (37.5 mpg) -- 17.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 2.0 rpg, 41.9 3pt%
- Chris Paul (31.3 mpg) -- 20.0 ppg, 10.0 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 spg
- DeAndre Jordan (31.8 mpg) -- 13.2 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.0 bpg, 1.7 spg
- Matt Barnes (31.6 mpg) -- 9.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.5 apg
- Jamal Crawford (28.7 mpg) -- 13.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.8 spg
- Austin Rivers (22.7 mpg) -- 12.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.3 spg, 42.3 3pt%
Rockets Players (series stats):
- James Harden (35.6 mpg) -- 24.5 ppg, 8.2 apg, 5.3 rpg, 1.2 spg
- Trevor Ariza (38.4 mpg) -- 15.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.2 spg, 38.5 3pt%
- Dwight Howard (33.9 mpg) -- 17.8 ppg, 13.7 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 1.3 apg, 1.0 spg
- Jason Terry (29.9 mpg) -- 11.2 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.8 rpg, 1.0 spg
- Corey Brewer (25.7 mpg) -- 11.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.8 spg, 16.7 3pt%
- Terrence Jones (23.2 mpg) -- 10.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg
- Josh Smith (20.1 mpg) -- 8.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, 31.6 3pt%
I really don't like Houston, and to see them lose in the NBA Finals would be a lot of fun. That is really putting the cart before the horse though. And do the Clippers stand a better chance of beating the Warriors in the West Finals? (The ultimate goal is to prevent the Warriors from going to the NBA Finals, which they will surely win.) Well, they swept the Rockets in the regular season (4-0), and nearly did the same against the Clippers (3-1), so that's pretty much a wash. It's hard for anyone to predict the future. But these two teams still have a pretty big game to play that will go a long way towards determining it.
In closing: Golden State sucks, LA sucks, and Houston sucks. Game 7 this afternoon between two teams who will have a free throw contest-off. Hooray!