Clippers-Rockets will go down as one of the stranger seven-game series in recent history.
The Clippers, fresh off a narrative-changing Game 7 win over the Spurs in the first round, took the first game of this series without an injured Chris Paul. Paul would return by Game 3, and the Clippers reeled off two more huge wins to take a 3-1 lead.
The series, marked by an absurd number of intentional fouls and often terrible basketball, seemed all but over. The Clippers three wins came by margins of 16, 25 and 33.
Then the Rockets put up their own blowout in Game 5, winning by 21. But Los Angeles was going back home for Game 6, and they led by as much as 19 in the second half of that game. Houston somehow came back, scoring 40 points in the fourth quarter to force a decisive Game 7.
On Sunday, Houston ran right through a tired, sloppy Clippers team. The Clips kept it close for much of the way, but each of their runs were answered by the Rockets. In the third quarter, Houston pulled away for good, withstanding a late scare from Los Angeles in the final minutes of the fourth. It was a wire-to-wire win.
Now, the conference final matchups are set. For all the craziness we saw in the playoffs, the final four teams are the top four seeds from the regular season. The NBA champion will come from Golden State, Houston, Atlanta or Cleveland.
The conference finals begin Tuesday.
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