By Christian Schneider
I Christian, of House Schneider, first of my name, do this day implore the sports gods (whether that is one of the Seven, R'hllor, Many-Faced God Whose Name is Death, the Drowned God, Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, or- well you get the picture) to deliver me this ONE favor.
Know that I have not prayed to you once this year. Not when my Patriots jousted for the 49th Bowl of Superiority, nor when my most hated nemeses the Blue-clad Devils of Duke triumphed in the tournament of 68, nor when the defender of truth and justice Manny Pacquiao wet the bed against the rapscallion Floyd Mayweather.
Not once. But now I raise my hands in the air (hoping that is a gesture that you find respectful, I still have no clue what you or y'all's rituals look like) and ask one boon: Please Sports God(s), give us Warriors vs. Clippers.
This is the battle we need, if not the one we deserve. It is the heavyweight bout that Pacquiao/Mayweather should have been (I know they're not heavyweights people, SHUT UP). It is the Grudge Match that should keep America enthralled for at least 6 memorable rounds. It has enough plotlines to pack a Robert Altman movie. It is a surefire classic and we NEED it to happen.
Please don't think this is meant as a slight on the Rockets or Grizzlies. James Harden is the most dangerous player in the playoffs (yep, I include Lebron, Harden gets to the line WAY more and that's what kills you in playoff games) and Kevin McHale has crafted a team that was previously seen as soft (Howard and sort of Harden) and washed up (Josh Smith, Jason Terry) and turned them into contenders. The Grindhouse Grizzlies are impressive, Marc Gasol is a truly great big in a league devoid of them, Mike Conley is a warrior, as he proved in Game 2, and Z-Bo is Z-Bo.
But these two are standing in the way of a showdown for the ages. What Pacers-Heat should have been last year. As far as bad blood goes, you'd have to go back to Lakers-Kings 2002 to match this. It's that heated.
Let's recap: The Clippers and Warriors hate each others' guts. They fight a lot during the regular season. They are division rivals. Chris Paul is the best pure point guard in the NBA but Stephen Curry is the MVP and they guard each other. Andrew Bogut and DeAndre Jordan are two of the best defensive centers in the game and they seem to lock horns every time they play. Blake Griffin is playing the best basketball of his career in these playoffs, having overcome the Spurs and carrying the team in Game 1 against the Rockets without Paul. But Draymond Green will be assigned to him and, in addition to being exactly the kind of rough-and-tumble defender that has always given Griffin fits, he wants to prove that the NBA Defensive Player of the Year was rightfully his. Locking up Bad News Blake seems like a good way to do it.
And that's just the marquee showdowns. How about JJ Redick vs. Klay Thompson? The veteran sharpshooter looking for his shot at being a key part of a championship run against the emerging superstar sharpshooter trying to achieve Scottie Pippen wingman status. How about the Barnes vs. Barnes battle? Has there ever two more different players with the same name squaring off than tatted-up, foulmouthed, enforcer Matt against cleancut, passive, intellectual Harrison? Throw in "please drop kick me now" Austin Rivers and the paper-thin Clipper bench trying to make Daddy proud against the deep and reliable Warrior backups, best in the league? War veteran Shaun Livingston against his old team? (just kidding)
And then there's the coaches. Veteran Doc Rivers, who has had to drag his team through the Donald Sterling mess, jam a bunch of mismatched pieces together and find them a toughness and chemistry capable of beating the defending champion Spurs, and get them over the mindset of being, y'know, the Clippers? Squaring off against amiable little rookie coach Steve Kerr who hopped out from behind the commentators' booth, grabbed the keys to a Mitsubishi (Mark Jackson's 51-31, first round out Warriors) and turned them into a Porsche (67-15, best team in Warrior history, most exciting team in at least a decade, if they get a ring they are top 15 all time Warriors).
Throw in the fact that they played a classic First Round series last year that ended with a classic Game 7 in the Staples Center, whereupon Chris Paul hugged it out with Steph Curry, then screamed taunts into the visiting Warriors' locker room and the fact that both these teams are playing like the best teams in basketball right now. You've got yourself a classic. It's gotta happen.
So, sports gods, please don't deny us this. That Grizzlie win in Game 2 was a real bummer. We don't need another series of the Grizzlies parking the bus. Or of James Harden on the free throw line. We need a melee, a bloodbath, a Seahawk-49er, Ravens-Steelers, Bulls-Knicks throwdown. So please, you gods, let us have Warriors-Clippers.