Only 20 percent of NBA teams have gone on the road and won a game seven. Most of those upsets weren’t executed by an inexperienced team like the Utah Jazz. They defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 104-91.
Utah Jazz 104 – Los Angeles Clippers 91
Gordon Hayward needed to have a great game in order for the Jazz to pull off the road win. He delivered with 26 points and eight rebounds in his first game seven of his career. He’s shown to be quite the performer in the playoffs. This marked his first appearance in the postseason and he finished the series averaging 23.7 ppg, 7.3 apg, and 2.9 apg while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 44.7 from three. Utah is turning into a contender thanks to the performances by Hayward. Their contender status will be put to the test in their next series against the Golden State Warriors.
Hayward stepping up and the experience of Joe Johnson propelled the Jazz past the Clippers. Outside of those two, there are not many experienced players in this locker room. The inexperience for Utah was a glaring weakness coming into the series. This was the first appearance in the playoffs since the 2011/2012 season where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. They also had not won a playoff series since the Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer days in the 2009/2010 playoffs.
On the other hand, the Clippers came in as a historically underachieving team due to make a deep playoff run. Not only did the Clippers come in as the more seasoned group, but also the more star-studded team. Chris Paul is one of the best point guards in the NBA and he leads “lob city” with his two high-flying big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Unfortunately, Griffin went down earlier in the series with a toe injury and the Clippers could never recover. Chris Paul took on more scoring responsibility which helped the Clippers force a game seven. However, he couldn’t continue in game seven as he struggled from deep and finished with just 13 points. The assists never go away in Paul’s game but he only recorded nine in this important game seven.
Now the Clippers prematurely head into an unsettling offseason. Turmoil is running through the organization just as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul hit the free agent market. This could be the last chance for Paul to receive a max contract as well as the first opportunity for Blake. It’s hard to say where this team is heading.
Boston Celtics 123 – Washington Wizards 111
The opening game of this series showed good signs for the competitiveness of this matchup. Washington opened up the game with a huge 16-0 lead on the road. Boston responded by slowly chipping away at the Wizards early lead. The Celtics found themselves down five points going into halftime. Then they went on a huge third quarter run to lead them to win the quarter by 20 points. They rode the wave all the way to the end and took game one at home.
Boston has lived and died by the play of Isiah Thomas. Fortunately, he’s come through more times than not which led the team to the first seed in the East. Thomas continued scoring at will as he recorded 33 points and nine assists. The little point guard plays with an extreme amount of courage and heart including starting this playoff with the death of his sister. He’s overcome the family tragedy so far in the playoffs and now is dealing with a dental tragedy. In the first quarter of the game, Thomas took an incidental elbow to the face on his shot which then led to his tooth soaring out of his mouth. Somehow, he was able to continue in the game and still performed at a high level.
Thomas will need to keep his strong play going as John Wall and the Wizards are still plenty capable of winning this series. Wall finished the game with 20 points and 16 assists but struggled with eight turnovers. The uber-athletic point guard will look to play better in the upcoming games this series. Otherwise, the Wizards might find themselves in an early hole.