Basketball is usually a tough sell for the typical Nigerian sports fan, as we tend to gravitate more towards soccer than other sports. But rarely do we ever have a basketball game which is as high stakes as tonight’s game. It’s the Los Angeles Clippers taking on the Denver Nuggets in a game seven conference semi finals, and this game could potentially make or break legacies.
How the NBA works
If you are unfamiliar with the way the championship process in the National Basketball Association (NBA) works, here’s a quick lesson. There are 30 teams in the NBA, split into two conferences, 15 in the east and 15 in the west. There are two competitions within a year, the regular season games, and the playoff championship games.
The playoff games is played to crown the season’s champion, and the last team standing takes home the trophy. While the regular season games, which is played prior to the playoffs, is held to fish out the 16 best teams, 8 in each conference which would be eligible to participate in the playoffs.
This round of 16 match-ups are played in a 7 game series, a team is faced with another and which ever team wins the most out of seven games, wins the series and advances. To further clarify, every team must win four of seven matches against their opponent in a playoff round to advance to the next round.
Similar to The UEFA Champions League home and away games, except in this case, each NBA team will be playing seven games, as opposed to two.
Why you needed to know this
This is important to know because there is nothing quite as emotional as a game 7 in American sports.
A game seven simply means that both teams equally have three wins over each other, which simply means that which ever team wins the next game goes up 4-3 and advances to the next stage, or wins the championship depending on what stage the competition has reached.
Game 7s are where legends have made their mark in sports history, names like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant have all had ground breaking and career defining game sevens, which is why they are so popular.
Today, we have ourselves another game seven for the ages, and sports analyst and fans all over the world are all watching in wait to see how this plays out.
Why the hype?
It is true that game sevens are not entirely rare. This playoff alone, we’ve already had three series that went to a game seven, so why is this one so anticipated. The reason is quite simple, and that is the stakes that is involved in this particular match.
The Los Angeles Clippers last years, spent a lot of money in recruiting two big name superstars in Kawhi Leonard, last year’s champion playing for the Toronto Raptors, Paul George, a perennial all star, and other elite players, for the chance to win the championship.
This team was so well built that everyone had retired to the idea that they would no doubt win the chip. But in a shocking turn of events, they face possible elimination if they don’t win tonight’s game.
To put this into context, we can use the Serie A as a hypothetical example. Now AC Roma is by no means a terrible team, but imagine that Juventus bought not only Critiano Ronaldo, but also Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Thiago Silva and Matt Hummes to join him, and they still end up loosing in the championship rounds, to the likes of AC Roma, the football world would obviously be in shock, and everyone will begin talking.
This is the sort of debacle the clippers are currently faced with. The team was touted to have built a roster that was unbeatable, and many analyst had decided that Kawhi is a better player than LeBron James, but tonight, after winning three games against the clippers, the Nuggets, which is a team made up of inexperienced rookies, could take down the behemoth that is the clippers.