In the most important game in Clippers‘ history, the hero was a second-year swingman whose name may be unfamiliar to most NBA fans, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Terance Mann scored a career-high 39 points in Friday’s close-out win over the Jazz, connecting on 15 of 21 shots from the field and 7 of 10 from three-point range.
Mann, who played a combined 9:10 in the first two games of the series, sparked the L.A. comeback Friday with 20 points in the third quarter as the Clippers advanced to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history. His shooting success enabled coach Tyronn Lue to stick with a smaller lineup that left Utah scrambling to defend the perimeter.
“When you trust your work, you trust in yourself,” Mann said, “you’re not surprised when any of this happens.”
There’s more on the Clippers:
- There’s still hope that injured forward Kawhi Leonard can rejoin the team sometime during the conference finals, but Lue said he’s preparing to go through the series without him, tweets Mark Medina of USA Today. Leonard, who injured his knee on Monday, didn’t travel with the team to Phoenix and has been ruled out of Sunday’s Game 1. “We can’t have hypotheticals and think he’s coming back one game,” Lue said. “No. We have to prepare like he’s not playing, and just kind of go from there.”
- Paul George enjoyed his first playoff game with a capacity crowd in his home town of Los Angeles, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Last year’s postseason took place at the Disney World complex in Orlando, and COVID-19 restrictions prevented the Clippers from filling their arena until Friday night. “This was my first time experiencing a crowd like this,” George said. “It was just a special night. You felt it, the cheers, the excitement. You felt the monkey off of the Clippers’ back in terms of getting out of the second round.”
- Josh Robbins of The Athletic talks to an anonymous coach, scout and executive from the Western Conference and gets a split decision in their predictions for the conference finals.