The winner of the Los Angeles Clippers-Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference best-of-seven squabble will go on to compete in the NBA Finals. Of course, that is just my opinion. OKC likely has the league’s regular season MVP in Kevin Durant. The Thunder also have human basketball missile better known as Russell Westbrook. The Clippers, fresh off of winning a rugged seven game matchup with the Golden State Warriors, counter with the dynamic duo of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. But the third cog in the Clippers’ playoff machine is likely to have the greatest impact on the series is center DeAndre Jordan. Against the Warriors, Jordan dominated the paint against a much smaller Warriors team. He’ll need to do the same against the Thunder in the second round of the NBA playoffs in order for the Clippers to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Without doubt, Jordan was the best player on the floor for the Clippers during the seven game series, pulling down 106 rebounds. In the last five games of the series, Jordan put up some astronomical numbers, registering rebound totals of 22, 6, 18, 19 and 18. In the Clippers 126-121 Game 7 victory, Jordan brought the hammer against Warriors, scoring 15 points, blocking three shots and snatching the 18 boards. If that is not dominating numbers, I don’t know what is. With that being said, Jordan must be able to duplicate that feat of being a menace in the middle in order for the Clippers to move on. It is that simple. Jordan is the great equalizer for Doc Rivers’ team. Whenever everything else breaks down on the defensive end, Jordan is usually around to clean up the mess like he with Game 7 against the Warriors still hanging in the balance.
The Play of the Game for the Clippers came when Golden State point guard and mercurial shooter Steph Curry split the perimeter defense of the Clippers and looked like he would be on his way to an easy two points. A serious candidate for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, Jordan swooped in like a hawk scooping up unsuspecting prey and swatted the ball away. The block led to a Clippers’ fastbreak, culminating in a four-point switch that essentially put Los Angeles in the driver’s seat to the win. That was the ballgame. Now he’ll have to do that against Durant, Westbrook and the rest of the fastbreaking Thunder team. It’s not a stretch to see Jordan keep up that pace. In the Clippers’ last four victories over the Thunder, Jordan averaged 16.3 points and 16.8 rebounds. Jordan has always exhibited great potential. In his first season coaching the Clippers, Rivers has turned Jordan’s potential into a nightmare for rest of the NBA to deal with for a long, long time. Incredibly athletic, Jordan has now incorporated the little nuances of basketball into his play on the court. That’s a scary thought for Durant, OKC and other NBA teams to fret about.