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The Grip's NBA Playoffs Round-up [Western Conference]


This was first featured in The Grip's 100th edition. Thank you for reading, or, at the very least, pretending to. We appreciate you.


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[1] Golden State Warriors vs. [8] LA Clippers


Game One: Warriors 121 , Clippers 104 Game Two: Clippers [+8.5] at Warriors, 10:30 p.m., tonight


The irony here for Doc Rivers and this No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchup, which is the most lopsided series since 1988, according to Vegas, is that he’d been pining for the matchup since 2015. 

That was three stars and one era ago, and no one knows that better than him. 

The shame here for Los Angeles is that it had a pretty awesome season, and improved despite the Tobias Harris trade; had the Clippers won another game and faced the Nuggets or Trail Blazers, things could have gotten interesting. 

This series, of course, will not be interesting, sans Patrick Beverely’s ongoing attempt at coaxing Kevin Durant into a mental breakdown

[READ: The beef between Kevin Durant and Patrick Beverley will make this inevitable Warriors sweep fun as hell]

[2] Denver Nuggets vs. [7] San Antonio Spurs


Game One: Spurs 101, Nuggets 96 Game Two: Spurs at Nuggets, 9 p.m., Tuesday


There is nothing in this world more Spurs than a guy named Derrick White, who played three years of NCAA Division II college basketball -- in Colorado, no less -- returning to Denver as part of a heavy underdog to egregiously posterize Paul Millsap, the $90 million prize for the Nuggets a few seasons ago, in a road game the Spurs would eventually win, despite going 16-25 this season away from home.  

Tim Duncan is gone. Manu Ginobili is gone. Tony Parker is decomposing in Charlotte.

But Pop, Derrick White, Becky Hammon, 20 years of dignity, a couple of band aids, and the old man games of LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are still there, and, for a game at least, that was good enough. 

For the series? We’d still take Denver. 


[3] Portland Trail Blazers vs. [6] Oklahoma City Thunder


Game One: Trail Blazers 104, Thunder 99 Game Two: Thunder at Blazers, 10:30 p.m., Tuesday



Where were you for the Enes Kanter game?

The big man, who plays exactly like you’d expect someone who has a warrant issued against him by his home country, put up 20 points and 18 rebounds, all of which were needed in Portland’s five-point Game 1 win, which snapped a 10-game playoff losing streak. 

Remember: The Blazers got this guy for free in February.  

We have a request: Can a smart basketball person tell us why this guy is so unplayable? 

He sucks at defense, sure. But:

The big problem for Oklahoma City is how injured Paul George suddenly looks, though they likely would have stolen Game 1 if not for a truly putrid performance from 3-point range as a team (5-of-33).  

[LISTEN: Damian Lillard on the playoffs, music, and his rookie moments]


[4] Houston Rockets vs. [5] Utah Jazz


Game One: Rockets 122, Jazz 90 Game Two: Jazz at Rockets, 10:30 p.m., Wednesday


From The Ringer’s winners and losers column: 

Utah allowed Harden to control the game like it was a yo-yo in his hands; that was its first mistake. The second was simply not producing enough offense to keep up. Utah scored only 44 in the first half and shot 26 percent from deep on the game. 

All of that is true and well said, and also very unsurprising. James Harden finished with an easy 29 points. 

The Jazz, who use Jae Crowder during crunch-time and Joe Ingles, who finished with three points, as their second most involved offensive player, have a lot to figure out.

Though, to be fair, they were blown out by OKC in last year’s first playoff game, too.  

[READ: This unorthodox way to guard James Harden is either genius or a fluke]

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