After Game 1 of the first round series between the Warriors and the Clippers, most felt that the former would be sweeping Doc Rivers and his squad right out of the playoffs.
The Clips were beaten 121-104 and the image of KD smirking after he and Patrick Beverly were ejected were fresh in everyone’s minds, most assuming that it was over for the Clips in Game 2.
For the first two and a half quarters of game 2, it definitely was, as LA was down 23 at the half and 31 in the third quarter.
Then it all changed.
The Clippers had their hearts checked and they responded valiantly, rallying to outscore the Warriors 85-58 in the second half en route to an amazing and improbable 135-131 comeback victory over the dejected Warriors and a stunned Golden State crowd.
“We were going to win,” said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers when asked about his message to his team. “Just hang in there. Just hang in there long enough. I was honest with them; I said I don’t know how, we’re going to figure this out. But just hang in there, hang in there with each other and I think they did just that.”
Not only did they do just that, they also made NBA Playoff history as the team’s 31 point comeback victory was the greatest in NBA playoff history. The team was down by 31 with 19:31 left in the game and in that remaining span, they outscored the Warriors 72-37.
Think about that. They essentially doubled the scoring of a team manned with Steph, KD, Klay and Draymond in less than 20 minutes, and they did it on the road in Oracle Arena.
Led by veteran Lou Williams, who dropped 36 points and 11 assists on the Warriors, 26 of those points in the final run by the team, the Clippers refused to lose last night. Williams hit key shot after key shot in the waning minutes, keeping the Clips in the game. But then Patrick Beverly, who is a combination of Ron Artest, Dennis Rodman, Scott Skyles, Alvin Robertson and Bruce Bowen, fouled out on a flop by Draymond.
Draymond waves goodbye to Pat Bev 👋 https://t.co/L7jfPZxSXW
Many thought that was it for the team; but again, they defied the odds and refused to give in to fan reactions, Green’s taunts or doubt.
And with less than :16 seconds remaining in the game, Landry Shamet delivered the 3 point dagger which completely silenced everyone.
Landry Shamet comes up CLUTCH to lift the @LAClippers to victory in Game 2! #ClipperNation https://t.co/x1kdw0vMO6
Beverly is the heart of the team, a hard nosed, annoying fly of a player who frustrates everyone he guards. While his stat line isn’t as impressive as Williams’, his contributions are irrefutable. Once again he was in Durant’s face all game, and although KD finished with 21 points, he only attempted 8 shots and fouled out. Beverly also came up with a crucial steal with a little over 7 minutes remaining in the game, leading to a dunk by Danilo Gallinari and a time out by a bewildered Warriors squad.
“We didn’t deserve to win that game” said a frustrated Klay Thompson, who finished with 17 points.
To make things even worse, the Warriors lost Demarcus Cousins, who went down with a quad injury in the first half, Adrian Wojnarowski saying it could be season ending.
“There’s a pretty significant quad injury,” said Steve Kerr. “He’s going to be out. I’ll just say awhile because I think it’s unclear how long he’ll be out. But yeah, it’s significant.”
But Boogie playing or not, the Clippers weren’t going out like that.
“We were down big,” said Lou Williams after the game. “We said ‘hey, let’s just go out there and get lost in the game and we’ll live with the results.’ Confidence and momentum is a real thing. We started getting going and after that, it was just a blur.”
And a blur it was. Many of us woke up this morning and got caught up in that blur, shocked that Clippers were able to rally and win after being left for dead. But for those who know the greatness of Doc Rivers, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as he has many big comeback wins on his resume, particularly in the postseason where he has three 20 point comebacks, one of which lead to an NBA title with the Celtics in 2008.
Yes, it’s only game 2 of the first round, and this win in no way guarantees that LA will dethrone the reigning NBA champs.
But for one night, the Clippers gave us all something special, a performance to remind everyone that these are in no way the Clippers of old.