The L.A. Clippers feverishly rallied to knock off the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in a seven-game series in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs that already rates as an all-time classic. Their reward for it all? Having to face the dynamic duo of James Harden and Dwight Howard, along with the rest of the Houston Rockets, in the second round.
With the series opener on tap for Monday evening, Rockets tickets are in rapid demand, as the winner of this best-of-seven clash moves on to the conference finals. Tickets for the Clippers are also seeing a lot of activity, whether it be fans wanting to travel and see their team on the road, or for the club’s upcoming home contests at the Staples Center for games three and four. Tickets for Game 1 average $158.30 with a get-in price of $45.
Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and company overcame nearly improbable odds, as they had their backs against the wall multiple times opposing the defending champs. Paul overcame a hamstring pull in Game 7 that could sideline him at least for the opener, but if he’s able to go and go as he did from start to finish against the Spurs, there seems to be no limit to how far Doc Rivers and his crew might be able to advance in the West.
Against San Antonio, Paul (23 points, eight assists, five rebounds, two steals) led four Clippers starters who averaged in double-figures, joining Blake Griffin (24 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists), J.J. Reddick (14 points, three rebounds) and DeAndre Jordan (13 points, 13 rebounds). Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Austin Rivers and Glenn “Big Baby” Davis also contributed to L.A.’s cause.
Beyond that, the Clippers proved their mettle by winning two of three on San Antonio’s home floor and, fueled by Paul’s game-winning banker, overcoming a late Game 7 deficit that would have ended their season.
They’ll need every bit of that resolve against the rising Rockets, 4-1 winners over the Mavericks in their opening series. When Houston hosts the Clippers in Game 1 on Monday, average ticket prices will be at $190.59, with a get-in cost of $72, but for Harden and Howard, nothing’s too much to pay for this opportunity.
Come Monday’s tip-off, it will have been six days since the Rockets last took the hardwood, but clearly their embers still burn. Kevin McHale’s men will be seeking to become the first Houston team to advance beyond the semifinals since 1997, and it all starts with Harden and Howard.
“Everybody is locked in on what our goal is and that’s to win a championship,” said Howard, who netted 18 points and 19 rebounds in the clincher over the Mavs.
For the series, he averaged 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, more than enough help to help his fellow superstar teammate Harden, who averaged 28 to go along with eight assists. Late-season additions Josh Smith and Corey Brewer combined to produce another 32 points and 10 rebounds per night.
The Rockets held off the Clips, 100-98, in L.A. in their last meeting in March, and things figure to be just as tight and intense throughout a series where the stakes will be even higher.