Last night in Los Angeles was special. There is no better way to put it. It wasn’t only that the Los Angeles Clippers advanced to the first Conference Finals in a 51 year franchise history, its how they did it. The Clippers did what they have never done before by doing something no team in the NBA had ever done before! Think about that; let that sink in. The Clippers were down 0-2 against the Mavericks, losing both of the first 2 games at home. They won that series. Then, they lost games 1 and 2 in Utah and found themselves in an 0-2 hole again. No team in the history of the Association had come back from multiple 0-2 series deficits. The Clippers weren’t in a hole, they were deep in the bowels of the Grand Canyon!
How Clippery of them.
Clippers Were In a Hole
Then, just to make sure any thought of advancing was thwarted, the basketball gods threw in a curveball. Kawhi Leonard would be out for games 5 and 6 after the Clippers managed to tie the series. Rumblings of “Clipper Curse” could be heard throughout LA. This team was counted out when they went down 0-2, again. Then again when they lost their best player. They were playing the team with the best record in the Association after all. A team with the Defensive Player of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year. When they won game 5 it felt more like a feel good story; throw the dog a bone type of story. Things were going bad for the Clippers, so lets let them have this. Then came game 6.
Game 6 Was Must-Win
The general consensus was that if the Clippers lost game 6 they would lose the series. Going back to Utah for game 7 was something no one wearing a Clippers jersey wanted. The basketball gods continued to tease the Clippers as game 6 inched closer with the headline “Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley are questionable for game 6″. The Jazz had been without Conley, but the possibility of facing them without Mitchell might have felt like good news. Of course, it was all a scam and both Mitchell and Conley laced them up for game 6. Then, the Jazz did what they did in game 5, they started hot. They stayed hot and took a 25 point lead early in the 3rd quarter. If the Clippers were going to win this game, to make Clippers and NBA history, they would have to play the game of their lives. They did just that!
Now, please do me a favor and read these next few sentences in your very best SVU intro voice.
In the National Basketball Association, 0-2 series playoff holes are considered especially heinous. A dedicated group of basketball players, formed an elite group in the 2020-21 season ready to make history in the face of an 0-2 hole and without their best player. They are the Los Angeles Clippers. This is their story.
Star of the Game
Terance Mann is no longer the best kept secret in the playoffs. Everyone knows who he is and what he is capable of. It’s one thing to start in place of a player, it’s another thing altogether to do what the player you replaced normally does. Kawhi Leonard was averaging 30 points, and 2 steals a game in these playoffs. Starting in his place for game 6 Mann scored 39 points and had 2 steals. There was a moment in the game where he was pulled and the camera showed him on the bench. He looked like he was watching a rec league game. He didn’t look tired, he didn’t look excited, he looked… relaxed. In game 6 of a game where his team was playing well and he was the primary reason why, he looked so chill. He is clearly learning more than just basketball skills from watching Leonard.
Making the emergence of Mann so much more special is that he is a home grown player. The Clippers drafted him and brought him up. Clippers fans have long been touting his potential. In game 6 the entire NBA world saw that come to fruition.
Man, just not even going to discuss this. ENJOY THE MOMENT CLIPPERS NATION!
In the midst of the Clippers furious comeback the ball found Patrick Beverley in the corner. He hoisted up a 3 and the shot went in. Mike Breen on the National telecast commented, “Even Patrick Beverley is getting in on the action!“. Beverley is the longest tenured Clippers player having been traded to the team in 2017. He is the type of player you love to have on your team, but really dislike when he’s the opponent. He averaged 7.5 points per game this season and is known more for his defense then his offence. But, in the regular season he made 40% of this 3’s. In these playoffs he was making 37%. In other words, it was no surprise that Beverley hit that 3, and another one later in the game to basically seal the deal that the commentators once again acted surprised to see. No, Patrick Beverley’s output was not a surprise, but I’m adding him here so I can talk about his contribution and call out the commentators for being surprised.
Let’s put some respect on Patrick Beverley’s name.
Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix, Sunday, June 20th at 12:30PM Pacific
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Jose never liked to write when he had to. Now that he gets to, he loves it! Former Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, covered the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times.