The Eastern & Western Conference Semi Finals got underway last night with both the Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers pulling off road victories partly down to the stellar play of their back courts.
The Clippers came out convincing winners over the Oklahoma City Thunder, leaving the Chesapeake Energy Arena with a 122 -105 victory in the first game of the Western Conference Semi Finals. The win was driven by the play of point guard Chris Paul who made a career high 8 three pointers, ending the night with 32 points and dishing out 10 assists. These stats are all the more noteworthy given that Paul has being playing with an injured hamstring and only played a mere 28 minutes last night.
In the other game of the night, the Wizards also put on a display against the Indiana Pacers. The back court tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal accounted for 38 points, 16 assists, 12 rebounds, 6 steals and 3 blocks in their 102 – 96 victory. Its easy to see why these two are now becoming recognized as the most dynamic and feared back courts in all of basketball. What is also worth noting is the fact that this was the Wizards’ first second-round playoff win since 1982. However, for the Pacers, Roy Hibbert’s struggles continued as he made no points or rebounds and is becoming more of a hindrance than a help.
Wednesday night sees Game 2 of the series’ with both the Thunder and Pacers needing to improve on their perimeter defense. It’s critical that both home teams come away with victories before they head to Los Angeles and Washington respectively, for games three and four. The Pacers will be looking to find a way to halt their stuttering performances while the Thunder will need Russell Westbrook to up his game against CP3.
All this being said, Wednesday night looks set to be a series defining night in both the Eastern & Western Conferences.
Conor O’ Reilly, Pundit Arena.