There’s a reason we love the NBA Playoffs. It tends to be more dramatic than the regular season, and of course, the stakes are higher. We see amazing comebacks, clutch shots, hard fouls, and the stuff that stars are made of. Last week’s Perspective predicted the Grizzles-Clippers series to be a thriller, and so far it is living up to the bill. Despite a 27-point deficit in the second half of game 1, Chris Paul convinced coach Vinny Del Negro to give him one more chance to make it a game, a decision that ended in a one-point victory for the Clips in stunning fashion. They stole home court advantage in the series and set a playoffs record in the meantime. Granted, there were tremendous shots made by Nick Young, Eric Bledsoe – even some clutch free throws from Blake Griffin (can’t help but think of Shaq saying “I make ‘em when they count”). But we all could see that the other team from LA got back in that game behind the competitive edge provided by their feisty 6-foot point guard in CP3. That, my friends, is the spirit of professional sports, exemplifying sheer will power and determination. The man simply refused to give in to the impossible odds in front of him.
Game 2 saw Memphis rise to the challenge, overcoming a double-digit early Clips lead to make it a series. But in game 3, with just over four minutes to go and the Clippers down six, Chris showed offense, defense, and the third phase of the game: clutchness. He simply would not be denied and wanted it more than even his opponent. The NBA regular season has heroes; the postseason has superheroes. Ladies and gentlemen, whatever the Clippers’ fate is for this playoff run, Christopher Paul is a Superhero. Get that man a cape!
Also notable around the Association:
Oklahoma City Thunder seems to have made gradual steps in each of their seasons since the franchise’s change of name/venue. Logically, the pattern would suggest at least a Finals appearance if not victory in 2012. So far, with a clean sweep of the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, they are on their way!
If Chris Paul and the Clippers are resilient, MVP candidate Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs can be identified by another ‘R’ word: relentless. They are using the Utah Jazz for target practice to put the entire league on notice. When healthy, the Spurs are not to be overlooked. I look for ‘Captain Jack’ Stephen Jackson, a familiar face from championship run past, to help provide even more depth for an already robust rotation. Both the Spurs and Thunder look to present a host of problems to the Miami Heat, who seem to have been coronated in the East thanks in part to injuries to the likes of Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard.
Boy, I cannot wait until June, but I am also very much enjoying the ride there!
Naledi Semela with The Arkitekt’s Perspective