Joe Johnson was 2007 Joe Johnson; the Clippers were the Clippers.
I watched the second half mostly. I had just lost two in a row in 2K14 to E when we decided to switch back and watch the last playoff game of the day.
We debated over how big a moment this playoff series is for Gordon Hayward as a possible stepping stone to the next chapter of his NBA career. We marveled at Chris Paul, saw Utah always get that crucial basket, and watched Blake Griffin disappear in the 4th quarter.
If the steady performance of the Jazz (and clutch Joe Johnson shooting) is what kept the them ahead, CP3 pulled out just about every trick he knows to try to will the Clippers to the W. He made up the majority of the Clippers offense as Jamal Crawford and JJ Reddick found themselves missing routine shots in the final stanza.
Coming out of the last Clippers timeout, I asked E if he thought the Clippers would tie the game or if they would win.
I think the Jazz are going to win.
I mumbled something about that not being an option as the Clippers inbounded the ball. Paul wasted little time banking home a tough shot from the right block. The inbound came to Joe Johnson, who gingerly made his way up the floor. When I say gingerly, think of the guy you play pick up games with who always wants to run point. No sense of urgency. That was Joe.
Joe weaved around the court until he came to the left key, guarded by Jamal Crawford. As the seconds ticked off, Joe started throwing his iso-moves at Crawford. Joe wiggled to the hoop and fired a shot with just enough space. It bounced off the rim once… and then rolled down through the hoop.
The Jazz steal Game 1 from the Clippers and the home court advantage. They pulled out the win without Rudy Gobert but no one knows what his timetable will be for a return.
Sources: MRI on Utah center Rudy Gobert revealed a hyperextension and bone bruise in his left knee, no structural damage.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 16, 2017
Hayward finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists. Not bad for stealing Game 1 but the Clippers should be much better prepared for Game 2. Maybe they’ll remember they have Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan when the Jazz are missing Gobert down low. Chris Paul spent a large chunk of hte 4th yelling at his teammates, asking for someone else to help him. He’ll be looking for a little revenge after being shown up by the old veteran Joe at the buzzer.
I still really like the Jazz in this series. The Clippers should win, especially if Gobert has to miss any extended amount of time. Could we continue to see Joe Johnson play like a competitive basketball player? Can Hayward lead the Jazz out of the second round? Or will the Clippers take Game 1 as a fluke and win the the next four?
Enough speculating. Watch this game. It reminded me of the classic 90s playoff games I used to watch. And if the playoffs are this good already, this is going to be a fun postseason.