While the Clippers tip off tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers, two other playoff series got started yesterday. Unfortunately, the quality of basketball did not reflect what one may expect playoff caliber basketball to be.Instead, it was more reflective of how unbalanced the Western Conference has become this year. There are clear haves and clear have not teams.
Neither Russel Westbrook or Kevin Durant played over 30 minutes in the game as the Thunder smoked the Mavericks in a blow out. It wasn't even that the Thunder were offensively amazing; the Mavericks shot a horrid 29.8% from the field.
Game 2 is Monday night and J.J. Barea's status remains in doubt. He was ruled out of the second half of Game 1 and was not playing at full strength during the first half. Barring a vintage Deron Williams appearing, the Thunder may just put the Mavericks out of their misery very soon.
This was surprisingly the closer game of the first round of the Western Conference and it was over by half time when the Warriors led by 27. James Harden was his vintage 2015-2016 self as he committed six turnovers while only having two assists. (He led the league with 4.6 turnovers a game; 374 overall.)
The bigger news was that Stephen Curry tweaked his ankle in the third quarter and did not return to the (blowout) game. (Steph played a total of 19 minutes).) While it is unlikely to affect their series against the Rockets, the Warriors will definitely want Curry at full strength before the second round (that could very well be against our own Clippers).
As for the Clippers, this game served another reminder that they do have a reason to finish the Trail Blazers off quickly. Like 4-0 sweep quickly. The longer that series drags on will mean likely the more rest the Warriors will have while lying in wait up north. Indeed, getting rested and readied for the second round is already on the mind of other fans.