One bounce. One tiny fraction of inch. That’s the difference between the Clippers taking a commanding 3-2 lead with the all-important Game Seven (if needed) waiting at home and the 3-2 hole that instead looms Game Six in San Antonio and an elimination game against the defending champs on Thursday night.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Clippers, whose seeming lifetime of star-crossed futility etched another chapter last night when DeAndre Jordan was called for basket interference on Blake Griffin’s go-ahead attempt with 4.9 seconds remaining. The Spurs hit their free throws and grabbed an offensive rebound to close out the game and leave the Clippers wondering what just happened…
We took only our fourth loss in the postseason as they were closed out in Houston, falling to cover by a few buckets. We will try to bounce back tonight with one of the two games on the docket.
Today’s Free Pick:
Portland Trailblazers at Memphis Grizzlies -6
The Grizz were ten minutes away from closing out the series, but Portland rallied fiercely to win and cover easily in Game Four. Now, the Grizzlies host a Portland team that has gained a little confidence and once again will face them without their point guard, Mike Conley. Conley was instrumental in corralling Damian Lillard in Games One and Two, holding him to 22 points on 27% shooting in the two games combined. However, Lillard’s production has nearly doubled since Conley went down in Game Three. Add in the emergence and offensive assertiveness of CJ McCollum, and it appears that Portland will be able to score.
But will they be able to score enough in Memphis to win the game and force a Game Six?
Memphis has been a house of horrors for the Blazers. They’ve won four of the last five games there by more than ten points. But again, as I said before Game Four, this is not the same team without Conley. Calathes and Udrich are capable backups, but Mike Conley is an elite defensive point guard. Neither back-up is. And Lillard is an elite scorer and playmaker. That is enough of an advantage to tip the scales in Portland’s favor.
The frontcourt of Memphis still has an edge, and the home court advantage and positive history against the Blazers does as well. But I like a close game tonight. With Conley, give me Memphis in a romp as they stack up a lead and Portland feels their once-promising season slipping down the drain. Without him? Portland is confident they can win tonight, go home and defend homecourt in Game Six, and then let the chips falls where they may in a do-or-die Game Seven with a chance to make some history…
First things first. Gotta win tonight. They may not, but I think it’ll be a lot closer and more tense than people expect.