With NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s announcement on Tuesday morning, seemingly everyone forgot that the Los Angeles Clippers were due to play a rather meaningful playoff game on Tuesday night.
Partially due to the off-court distractions and partially due to the Golden State Warriors finally getting hot in Game 4, the Clippers return to their familiar Staples Center home court on Tuesday tied 2-2 with the Warriors in their best of seven playoffs series.
Pushed into the background by the off-court narrative, Warriors guard Stephen Curry exploded for 33 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in Game 4. Curry was not the only reason the Warriors leveled the series in Game 4, as the entire Warriors’ team appeared to finally regain its celebrated shooting ability.
In the two previous games, both of which the Warriors lost, they only converted 10 of their 50 three-point attempts. In Game 4, Curry and company finally took the lid off the basket and made 15 three-pointers in 32 attempts.
For the Warriors to win the series, they need to stay hot. In Game 5, the Warriors will look to prove that the shooting slump has passed. If it has not, the Warriors will struggle to win another game--let alone, the series.
For the Clippers, Tuesday is about reminding everyone in Los Angeles that the Clippers are about more than the one man at the top. The Clippers are about the product on the court, and that product possesses championship level talent. When this series started, the Clippers were the heavy favorites to advance.
Four games later, no one has any idea what will transpire in the final three games of the first round series.
However, when the chips stack up, the Clippers still have the best player in the series in Blake Griffin, the more experienced coach in Doc Rivers, and the deeper bench.
Whether the Clippers bond together and overcome the off-court distractions, make a deep playoff run and maybe even win a title remains to be seen. The alternative is that the up and down emotions and general turmoil swallow the team whole and send the Clippers packing with a painful first-round exit.
Tuesday’s Game 5 may not win the series, but the pivotal game at Staples Center should provide insight into whether this team is quickly heading for a long summer or something far greater.