This shouldn’t have to end, and the Los Angeles Clippers don’t have to when it does.
Not because the Clippers and San Antonio Spurs are victims of the league’s arbitrary rules on playoff seeding of division winners, and not even due to the increasingly obvious reality that both clubs would be worthy title-winners. But players like Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, and company simply merit better than an early playoff exit – or for that matter, any season-ending disappointment whatsoever.
The Spurs beat the Clippers 111-107 in Game 5, taking a 3-2 stranglehold on an already epic first-round series as it heads back to San Antonio for an elimination contest less than 48 hours from now. Tuesday’s game was wildly intense, extremely well played, and overflowing with drama from the opening tip.
Los Angeles jumped out to a 14-point lead late in the first quarter only to surrender it entirely as less than three minutes ticked off the game clock. Gregg Popovich’s club took the life out of Staples Center in the third quarter by intentionally sending DeAndre Jordan to the free throw line 10 times and turning a one-point deficit into a three-point advantage. But the Clippers roared back behind a suddenly re-energized Blake Griffin and tied the game at 82-82 on Austin Rivers’ double-clutch bank-shot as the quarter’s buzzer sounded.
And then we learned all of the earlier proceedings were just preamble to 12 minutes of basketball that bordered on surreal.