The Utah Jazz dispatched the LA Clippers tonight with a final score of 104-91, and it was by all means deserved. After mounting a comeback from being down 3-2 in the series—with a close away victory in Salt Lake City—the Clippers were living and dying by the flow and ebb of Chris Paul. But tonight, it was all ebb, as Paul put up only four points after the first quarter.
While you could harp on the Clippers for their failure to carry themselves into Round 2 at home, you've certainly got to hand it to the Jazz for doing what only 20 percent of Playoff teams have done before: clutch a Game 7 away. Not to mention that only seven other teams in NBA history have done it by 10 points or more. Also add in the fact that they won a total of three away games to clinch it. This is a Jazz team that was too young and injured to make it to the 2016 Playoffs—because they were edged out by a spry, Harden-led Rockets. But they entered into this year at the relatively-comfortable position of No. 5 in a stacked Western Conference.
It was hard to look at this game as a Jazz win so much as a Clippers loss, though, as the Clippers continued to not live up to their billing. Aside from some late-game bursts of life from Jamal Crawford, the energy was simply dead from a team that historically goes out on a kind of 'meh' note. The 2016 Playoffs also saw them bow out in the first round too, against a fighting but not excellent Portland Trail Blazers. And with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul's free agency coming up, the narrative was all funeral-themed, surrounding the death of Lob City.
Utah also took a back seat to yet another storyline: the end of Paul Pierce's career.
While Paul Pierce was warming up for a soon-to-be loss against the Jazz, the team where he made his legend—the Boston Celtics—were busy at work, taking down the Wizards in their Second Round Game 1. It feels like an ill-fitting end for such a tremendous player—who, on a side note, put up six points in 22 minutes today—to be tied down to an impotent backcourt and general malaise halfway across the country from his NBA origin story. But there's only one team that emerges victorious at the end of the post-season, and it certainly wasn't going to be the Clippers this year. It's just that Paul Pierce's goodbye didn't have to be this mediocre.