There’s been the unexpected, like Golden State’s Stephen Curry going down with a knee injury. Then came a double whammy for the Clippers, with Chris Paul out with a broken hand and Blake Griffin’s season ending because of a nagging leg injury.
What awaits in a pair of Game 5’s on Wednesday night — when Portland visits the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston treks to Oakland — is anyone’s guess. The Blazers-Clippers series are tied at two games apiece, while the Warriors enter with a 3-1 series lead over the Rockets and will try for the clincher.
“To a man, you have to be able to dig down deep and rise to the occasion,” Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “And there’s no bigger occasion, no bigger opportunity, than this one.”
The Rockets are fighting for their season. The Clippers surely feel the pressure of defending home court, for the last thing they’ll want to do is face a raucous road crowd in Portland later this week while on the brink of elimination. And all this comes with Curry and Paul able to only watch, an All-Star backcourt shut down by freak injuries.
“It continues to show you that everyone is just one moment from not playing,” Miami guard Dwyane Wade said. “It’s tough. The way that Steph got hurt, it’s a freak thing. And obviously Chris Paul is one of my best friends. It was tough for me to see that.”
Curry’s absence overshadows the Rockets-Warriors matchup. So will the absences of Paul and Griffin for the Clippers, who suddenly look vulnerable against Portland. The Clippers made the decision Tuesday to sit Griffin for the remainder of the postseason.