Many fans have lamented the Clippers-Spurs series as an unfortunate first-round matchup, and this decisive Game 7 more than proved the point. This final decisive bout had both teams at an absolute, unforgiveable grind, each bent on taking their postseason run to the next round.
The Spurs machine unfortunately, did not manage to prevail over the persistent Clippers, and succumbed in the final seconds, 109-111.
Patty Thrills did not happen
Patty Mills was mostly quiet in this game. He had six points on two of six shooting (two of four from deep), had a rebound, an assist and a steal in 15:37 minutes. Fellow Aussie Aron Baynes was a DNP in this game, along with Jeff Ayres and surprisingly - fellow guard Cory Joseph, who had been in contention with Mills for minutes throughout this season.
Mills had an early corner three that came off the Spurs' trademark fluid passing, and remained scoreless through the third until a Manu-assisted three happened in the fourth quarter.
He also remained vigilant on defense, sneaking up to knock the ball away on a Griffin isolation play against Splitter, that became a broken Clippers possession. He also intercepted a Griffin pass in the third quarter that nearly became a one-man fast break, except that the ball went out of bounds too soon.
The steal finally happened in the fourth when Blake Griffin's loose dribble got picked off by Patty, who turned it into a Leonard fast break. Unfortunately, Kawhi Leonard's reverse layup missed. The Clippers returned the favour with a lightning quick fast break that saw Matt Barnes slamming it home.
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Apart from a forced buzzer beater, the other shots felt more like shots that should have gone in. For example, there were two Rivers-defended layups (without Jordan in the vicinity) that failed to find the hoop. Another was a wide-open three at the baseline that went awry. Credit however, to Austin Rivers for making the drives difficult for Patty, and not foul in the process.
Mills was defending hard, but it was Chris Paul who had the upper hand this night.
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CP3 was intent on seeing the game through, and would not be stopped. You can see in this sequence, how Paul managed to force a turnover off Diaw, go into transition and force a backpedalling Patty into giving up space on the three-pointer.
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If you look at the GIF, Paul was clutching at his hamstring during the fast break, but soldiered on. It apparently was serious enough to send him to the bench first, and then the locker room. Despite the injury, Chris Paul did not give up, returning later to give his team what it needed - numerous big shots, an unbelieveable one-handed bank shot over Duncan that sealed the win.
Credit to Patty for his fight to recovery from surgery this season, but it has just been a rocky road that ultimately ended with a first-round exit. Let's hope that Patty continues to rehab well, and look his best when the NBA season begins anew.
Looking ahead to the FIBA Oceania Championships
The Spurs' postseason has ended, and it's time to look forward to Melbourne for our next sighting of Mills and Baynes. The FIBA Oceania Men and Women Championships game will see the Boomers playing the New Zealand Tall Blacks on 15 Aug 2015, and will likely feature most of our Aussies in the NBA, with the exception of Joe Ingles.
Tickets are set to go on sale on Ticketek - don't miss it!