2017 Playoffs: 8-1 (is this a dream that after the worst run of my covers life starting the year we can cap 90% in the first round? I hope so).
We've capped this series as well as possible. 3 games won out of 6 and all games were ATS winners.
Now we get the last game. More important than all the rest but the same subterranean themes that have been evolved game in and game out are coming to fruition here.
And that theme is this: Now that it is game 7, the Clippers have made the necessary adjustments to win, and can do it in the place they fought tooth and nail for...home court.
Home court matters. Home court matters THE MOST in the NBA in a GAME 7 with the home team winning over 80% of the time.
That is very strong. About as strong a trend as you can find. There is no ATS number there because each game 7 is different.
But the Clippers did everything they could to get to this very game in the first round, knowing full well the mix of youth and veteran presence could sink them in this series, UNLESS they positioned themselves to get home court in the final game of the series.
And that they did. With identical records with the Jazz. That matters. That puts the Jazz in a very tight spot, particularly for a franchise who last won a playoff series in 2010.
That history matters. As does the Clippers history. Round 1's and Game 7's are like regular season games to this core at this point. Win and advance. That is all that is on their mind.
For the Jazz? They have to be tight. To have the close-out game on your home court and to blow it. They never really were a threat to win that game. Only a final burst game the Jazz a glimpse of the next round and JJ, for all his brilliance in this series, couldn't hit the final prayer to tie it.
All the pressure is on the Jazz here folks. I could see the Clips coming out playing fast and loose. It will be neck and neck but the classic scenario is once the home team gains a strangle-hold late, they close the door. If the Jazz do not hit a single buzz-beater in Game 1, this series is actually over. The Clippers for all their ups and downs have been the slightly better team and now can come home to close it out.
What do they have?
1. Chris Paul
Oh, Scal is telling me that the Clips have Chris Paul. Thanks Captain Obvious.
No. He is playing on another level. That level is so high, it makes up for a large percentage of Blake, our primary worry.
Regular season? 18pts 9.2 assists 48% Shooting 41% from 3.
This series? 27 points, 10 assists, 53% shooting 42% from 3.
This is a league of STARS. We know this. That is why only a handful of teams win the NBA title over the course of DECADES.
When you have star production like this, you have power. Even when you lose one of your stars. Because production like this flows through the entire team, aiding them, inspiring them, propelling them to victory.
2. Pain and anguish
A history of pain in the playoffs matters. And the Clippers, for all their evident talent, probably have the WORST resume with this core.
2014- Blew a 16 point lead to OKC in Game 6 and lost the series. This after a boneheaded turnover by Paul in Game 5 to gift OKC the win.
2015- 3-1 lead on the Rockets. An insurmountable lead in Game 6. A loss in that game then a blowout in game 7. This after creating what appeared to be a clear path to the finals after beating the Spurs in a thriller in the first round.
2016- Blake and Paul go down within minutes of each other and the Clips lose to a major underdog in the Blazers. Like the hand of god willed them to lose if you watched it happen live. Surreal. They needed Austin Rivers, who looked like Jerry Cooney after one round with Grillmaster George Foreman, and some duct tape and chicken wire to crawl right to the finish line only to fall short.
There were others even before that. Blake going down against Memphis after being up 2-0 in 2012.
All of this history matters? Oh yes.
Particularly when the team can most certainly be disbanded, long-term contracts for Blake and CP3 and possibly JJ on the horizon, making the bench even more shorthanded.
Why does it matter? This core has seen it all, experienced it all, and even if they haven't (guys like Mo Speights) you can almost sense they feel. it.