Weekly Ramblings: Indiana Pacers/Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers & More
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Leave it to the two teams from Los Angeles to drag their series out to seven games. Of course, most expected it from the Clippers. Everyone I talked to about the series figured it would be the closest of the eight series, and no one was certain that their pick would win.
From the start I said I would take the Grizzlies but would ultimately end up regretting my decision because of Chris Paul.
Though Paul didn't necessarily put up out-of-this-world numbers, his 20.7 points, 7.7 assists and 5.2 rebounds were nothing to sneeze at, nor were his 2.8 steals per game. In fact, that's a very solid stat line, but if his teammates hadn't stepped up, that wouldn't have been enough to get it done. I didn't think his team would step up, but now that they have, they are dangerous from here on out.
Pacers vs. Heat
How about the Pacers? I was genuinely surprised when I turned on the game for the second half and the Pacers were hanging right in there. I hope this is a sign of things to come for this series, because although Granger and George failed to show up, Indiana was there until the end. If the they can find a way to get the ball to Hibbert more often, I think Granger and George will find their shots a little easier.
The Heat don't have anyone down low who can consistently go up against Hibbert solo. This will force the Heat to sag off their matchups to help out. If Indiana can feed Hibbert consistently, I think it will really open things up.
Los Angeles Clippers
I'm really intrigued by this team going forward in this year's playoffs. If the Clippers keep playing with this type of intensity, they will give the Spurs a tough fight.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again—you don't want to play against Chris Paul when it matters. Well, the playoffs matter, and the seventh-year guard has beaten teams in the past with less help than he has now. He has some good shooters who can get hot at any moment, he has some good defenders around him, and he has a lot of athletes at his disposal.
Paul is the ultimate floor general, and because of that you have to be scared to go up against him. The matchup between he and Tony Parker should be one of the best in the second round and will go a long way towards deciding this series.
Los Angeles Lakers
Well, it's about time!
After three tries, the Lakers finally put the Nuggets to bed. Best of all, someone besides Kobe Bryant showed up to play. The play of Pau Gasol has me the most excited, though. He really came to play on Saturday—scoring 23 points, grabbing 17 rebounds, dishing out six assists and swatting away four shots! Any time someone besides Kobe shows up, it bodes well for the Lakers, and Saturday's win was a total team effort.
The most compelling storyline for Los Angeles has to be the overall, genuine team effort that took place in the Game 7 win. Five players had 10 or more shots (Gasol 19, Bryant 16, Bynum 15, Artest 15, Blake 11). This was much more similar to the team games we saw the Lakers playing for a stretch toward the end of the season while Kobe was out, before Artest was suspended, and when L.A. was winning games.
I will have more on Los Angeles and its chances against OKC during my in-depth second-round preview.
Los Angeles Dodgers
I wanted to take this time, while I'm rambling, to throw a little baseball into the mix. The Dodgers' last six games have been pivotal division games, and they have won five of them (two against the Giants, all three against Colorado).
The Dodgers host the Diamondbacks (15-20) for a quick two-game home stand before traveling to San Diego for a three-game series at PETCO. If they can do as well in the next five games as they have in the past six, they could continue to push their divisional lead past the six-game marker it is currently sitting at.
Although Matt Kemp has been slowed by his recent hamstring injury (hitless in his last 14 at-bats), the Dodgers continue to roll. Hopefully the star center fielder can get healthy by the time St. Louis (who leads the Central Division) comes to town. I would love to see how a healthy Dodgers team stacks up against another division leader.
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Robert C. Binyon is a fourth-year student at the University of California-Los Angeles and is graduating in June with a degree in sociology. You can follow him on twitter - @rcbinyon.
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