In the aftermath of a “Do-or-Die” Game 7, Kevin Arnovitz takes stock of the win, a quintessential Clippers victory executed in a manner most unexpected:
There are big postseason games characterized by a brilliant strategic adjustment, exploiting a defensive weakness or attacking a mismatch at the perfect moment. The winning team’s playbook comes alive on the court while every pass, shot and screen are guided by purpose.
The Los Angeles Clippers’ 82-72 Game 7 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies wasn’t one of those games.
“On the whiteboard, all the X’s and O’s didn’t even matter,” Clippers forward Kenyon Martin said. “You didn’t have to write any of that. It wasn’t about any of that schemes, what they were going to run.”
In many ways, Game 7 was the quintessential Clippers win. They’ve never relied on tactical prowess to down their opponents, nor do they have a coach steeped in the dark arts of basketball stratagems. Their defense isn’t governed by a system and their offense can best be described as ad-hoc.
Fewer than one in five road teams has won Game 7 in the NBA postseason, and if the Clippers were going to overcome probabilities, injuries to their two best players and their own organizational history, they weren’t going to do it with style points — not in a hostile arena against a Grizzlies team that’s made disruption its trademark.
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