With the Clippers’ epic collapse in Game 6, we asked several members of The Times staff to give their prediction for Sunday’s Game 7. A look at what they said:
These Clippers have proven they can win big playoff games on the road, having already won twice in San Antonio with their backs against the wall. These Clippers have also shown they can also win Game 7s, as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are 3-0 in those games. Plus, the Rockets won’t win three in a row. The Clippers will win by at least eight.
-- Bill Plaschke
Let’s hold off on those Clippers obituaries. Sure, they are devastated after losing a 19-point lead in the final 14 1/2 minutes during what went from what should have been the greatest triumph in franchise history to their most crushing defeat.
But here’s some proof of life heading into Game 7 on Sunday in Houston: The Clippers logged a franchise-record 26 road victories during the regular season and won two road games against the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, wiping out 2-1 and 3-2 series deficits.
The Clippers have also arguably outplayed the Rockets in 17 of 24 quarters in a series that’s somehow tied. You can give the Rockets the final 1 1/2 quarters of Game 2, all four quarters of Game 5 and the final 1 1/2 quarters of Game 6. Everything else has belonged to the Clippers … except the series lead.
And here’s the kicker: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are 3-0 in Game 7s as a Clippers trio, beating Memphis in 2012, Golden State in 2014 and San Antonio earlier this month. Of course, all of those games were in the first round and this is a different challenge entirely after such an epic meltdown, but here’s predicting the Clippers are up for it and advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
-- Ben Bolch
The stats don’t show who has the advantage. Nearly 80% of home teams win Game 7s in NBA playoff series, and Game 7 is at Houston’s Toyota Center. Point, Rockets.
But only eight teams in NBA history have recovered from a 3-1 series deficit to advance to the next round. Point, Clippers.
I think the Clippers will win Game 7 because they’ll finally be playing with the same sense of desperation that the Rockets have had when facing elimination in Games 5 and 6. The Clippers are on the verge of making the Western Conference Finals for the first time in their 45-year history, and they don’t want to let that slip away. Point, Clippers.
-- Melissa Rohlin
Good grief. Only the Clippers could do this.
More painful than Portland’s disappearing 15-point lead against the Lakers in 2000. More disturbing than Buffalo losing to Tennessee on that ridiculous kick return-lateral play. Yes, even the Bills could sing a happier tune than the Clippers after losing the Music City Miracle.
So much was at stake for the Clippers. The end of all the second-round punch lines. Goodbye to decades of embarrassment. No more Clippers jokes ever!
But if they don’t win Sunday, they’ll go back to being eternal losers, the Chicago Cubs of the NBA.
It’s going to happen. Just don’t see how the Clippers get out of this now. Congrats, Dwight. Congrats, Houston.
-- Mike Bresnahan
The odds are wholly against the Clippers winning Game 7 in Houston and the basketball gods may also be against them after their epic collapse in Game 6.
In a Game 7 of the NBA playoffs, the home team has won 80% of the time, going 96-24.
So a Clippers team that blew a 19-point lead in Game 6 at home against the Houston Rockets will not turn those odds around in their favor Sunday at the Toyota Center.
The Clippers will lose the second-round series they once led 3-1 and they will fail to reach the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
There is no rhythm to this series, we can only blame part of that on the Hack-a-D.J. flood of free throws. With Chris Paul sidelined because of a hamstring injury, oddsmakers favored the Rockets to win the series. But then the Clippers took Game 1 in Houston with Blake Griffin playing point guard and the odds swung the other way. Thursday night the Clippers were 8 1/2-point favorites to close out at home, but Houston scorched them, 40-15, in the final quarter as the Clippers went soft.
-- Broderick Turner
Who wins Game 7 Sunday in Houston? Again, there is no rhythm to this series. But with no cushion left, I expect the Clippers to at least play hard all game, and with Chris Paul looking healthy again (he had 31 points, 11 assists last night), I’m picking L.A. to win -- in a close one.
-- Barry Stavro
Perhaps the Clippers don’t deserve to advance past the Houston Rockets, after their meltdown in Game 6. For most of the series, the Clippers have been the better team and yet they’ll need to survive a Game 7 in Houston to make their first Western Conference Finals appearance.
The Clippers won twice in San Antonio on the road in the first round, finishing the series in seven games at Staples Center. They’ve gotten through the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors with Game 7 victories in years past. They’ll do it again on Sunday, provided they actually continue to play past the third quarter -- a glaring omission on Thursday night.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have been better in this series than James Harden and Dwight Howard. It’s unlikely that Josh Smith and Corey Brewer will explode offensively, like they did in Game 6. The Clippers will get enough scoring from J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers to beat the Rockets, even in the hostile environment of Houston’s Toyota Center.
-- Eric Pincus