Saturday afternoon, the Clipps snuck away with another one point victory, narrowly edging the Grizzlies to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Prior to the game, every analyst agreed that this was a must-win for the Clippers. After losing home court advantage going into the playoffs, this 2-1 lead gives the Clippers the upper-hand, putting them on the path to close out the series at home in game 6, assuming they can irk out another win in the next two matchups. More importantly, it takes the pressure off the Clippers going into game 4; they can play their game, they can come out in front of their home crowd and take a commanding 3-1 lead before heading back to Memphis.
Clippers fans have waited a long 6 years to see their team play at home in the postseason, and the crowd yesterday was absolutely electric. Ralph Lawler said, prior to the game yesterday, that game 2 in Memphis was the loudest crowd he's heard to date... Staples Center saturday afternoon gave them a run for their money. As Mike Conley talked about in Memphis, the home crowd can make a serious difference in the playoffs. They inspire the team to play harder; dive for balls, lockdown on defense, etc. Clipper Nation will be an important factor in game 4, potentially lifting the Clippers to another home win, putting them well on track to advance.
Speaking of inspiration, Caron "Tough Juice" Butler proved he's been sippin' on that juice by playing through a fracture left hand Saturday, an injury that looked like it would sideline him for the majority of the post season. After missing last year's championship run with the Mavs, Caron looks like he's motivated to not miss out on what could be a special post season with the Clipps. It's a morale booster for sure, as Chris Paul put it, "Caron is the true meaning of the word 'vet,' in all aspects of it." Paul added, "The way he talks to you during the game; in the fourth quarter he came up to me and said, 'Take us home.' His energy and just being around the league; he knows what's going on, and it's something I love."