Game Seven. There is nothing like it, especially on the hardwood.
We were able to witness two of them go down to the final seconds this week. What. A. Treat.
Let’s talk a look at both series and how they came to dramatic endings:
DENVER OUTLASTS UTAH 4-3
It was truly a “show for the ages” between these young stars as both players combined to score a TOTAL of 475 points in the series. Mitchell averaged 36.2 points per game, while Murray finished with 31.5. Both players joined an exclusive club as only two of six players in NBA history to have two or more 50-point games in one series.
This is likely only the beginning of their future battles.
This series was defined by win streaks. In the series opener, Denver came back to beat Utah in overtime despite Mitchell’s 57 points. Utah blew out Denver by 19 and 27 in the following two games following that up by narrowly winning by 2 points in game four to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Jamal Murray took over at that point, putting the Nuggets on his back with games of 42 and 50 points to extend this series to a 7th game.
A much-anticipated Game 7 on Tuesday night did not go as expected. Both teams were exhausted, but their defenses held firm. Utah only scored 36 points in the first half and Denver followed that up with only 15 points in the next 16 minutes after halftime. Down the stretch, Denver’s star center Nikola Jokic made three huge baskets including a hook shot with 27.5 seconds left to give Denver an 80-78 lead. Then this madness happened:
Mike Conley almost hit one of the craziest three pointers in NBA history. The shot was almost half way down and then fell out. Denver won the series and Jamal Murray immediately ran right to Donovan Mitchell’s side helping him up. What a way to end.
HOUSTON SURVIVES OKLAHOMA CITY 104-102
The Houston Rockets vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder series was the most anticipated series of the first-round. The reason? It was this past offseason that Houston traded a “washed up” Chris Paul to the Thunder in a deal that got them Russell Westbrook. Houston was expected to contend for the Western Conference, now that Harden had Westbrook. The Thunder were supposed to be bottom dwellers after trading Russ and Paul George, content to sit on their draft picks for the next decade.
Little did they know…
Chris Paul, at 35 years of age put together a renaissance season along with several LA Clippers cast-offs leading the Thunder to a 5th seed in the Western Conference playoffs and a date with his former team.
Houston jumped out to a 2-0 lead despite Westbrook sidelined with a calf injury. Oklahoma City outscored Houston 15-3 in overtime to take game three and followed that up by overcoming a 15-point deficit and taking game four 117-114. Russell Westbrook returned for game five and the Rockets destroyed the Thunder 114-80. The Thunder, led by the savvy Paul, would not back down in game six. Paul hit several clutch shots in the final minutes and Thunder fans rejoiced as their former star Westbrook made a huge turnover in the final seconds forcing game seven.
Game Seven was a back and forth battle that came down to the wire. Houston’s James Harden had a horrible offensive night finishing with 17 points on 4-15 shooting. To the surprise of everyone, Harden came up huge defensively with a key block on Lu Dort (Career-high 30 points) with only seconds left. Oklahoma City had one final shot to tie or win with 1.1 seconds left. However, OKC was unable to complete a successful inbound and Houston escaped, 104-102.
ONE FINAL WORD
My biggest take away from these two games is my appreciation of the NBA Bubble. Obviously no one wanted this to happen- we want to see these teams’ on their home floors in front of their fans.
Are we sure, however, that Jamal Murray posts back to back fifty point games in in front of crazy Utah fans while his team is down 3-1 in the series? Is Donavan Mitchell scoring 57 in game one to open the playoffs in front of Nuggets fans? Are we sure that the Celtics and the Heat are able to go up 2-0 while playing the first two games in Toronto and Milwaukee?
I honestly don’t think so.
In this bubble we are finally seeing an even playing field where less experienced team’s have just as much of a shot to win as experienced ones. Even more special, however, is the play of stars under the age of 25. With such minimal playoff experience, it’s highly unlikely that these stars would be burning so brightly without this bubble.
You need to watch these playoffs. It’s only going to get better.
- / 1 year ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.