Spurs-Clippers Playoff Preview
After eight long days of waiting, the Spurs-Clippers series finally kicks off tonight. Here are previews of the series from around the league.
Few things about the No. 1 seed in the West could be more different than the Clippers, and not just in terms of franchise history. While the worn-out Clippers are facing their sixth game in 11 days, the Spurs haven’t played for eight days since sweeping Utah in the first round.
That the Spurs are not the most hobbled team in a playoff series is a refreshing change of pace for them. Winners of 14 in a row — one of the NBA’s six-longest winning streaks sustained in the playoffs since 1986 — the Spurs are not just well rested but also in unusually good health for this time of year.
Paul Forrester writes for Sports Illustrated:
The Spurs haven’t lost since April 11. They’ve won the 14 games they’ve played in that span by an average of 18 points. They’re the best-shooting team in the playoffs and have the stingiest field-goal defense.
Paul and Griffin (who is playing through a knee injury) are going to need a lot of help stopping a team as deep, savvy and rested as the Spurs. Of course, they did just take down a Grizzlies team that stunned San Antonio last year in the first round. But these Spurs are different, sleeker, based on an offense that can deliver from any spot on the floor — quickly. The Clippers did well to win a playoff series for the first time since 2006, but San Antonio is on a roll and has too much firepower. Spurs in four.
J. Michael Falgoust of USA Today asks, Do the Clippers have any shot vs. the Spurs?
The two best point guards in the NBA this season — the Spurs’ Tony Parker vs. the Clippers’ Chris Paul — highlight a series of dynamic backcourts with explosive scoring potential.
After winning four NBA championships from 1999-2007 with Tim Duncan in the post as the focal point of the offense, the Spurs now are led by Parker, who averaged a team-high 18.3 points — his highest output since 2008-09 — and a career-high 7.7 assists in his 11th season.
With Paul and Griffin ailing, the edge has to go to San Antonio, which won the season series 2-1. The Clippers won’t be able to pack it in against the Spurs as they did against the Grizzlies, who lacked the outside shooting to free up their post players.
That will leave room for Duncan in the low post. He might be old, but he can dominate in stretches better than anyone for Los Angeles.
Sean Deveney writes for the Sporting News (“Spurs-Clippers: Depth, shooting give San Antonio edge in Western Conference semifinal”):
The Clippers had to claw to get past the Grizzlies, and in doing so, some of their weaknesses were exposed. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan make up the “Lob City” frontcourt, but defensively, Del Negro obviously is more comfortable with Evans and Martin, two weak offensive players (Evans actually played more minutes than Jordan in the first round). Griffin, of course, is an All-Star and a terrific offensive option, but Paul seems to be the only guy that Del Negro trusts on both ends. All of this means that the Clippers are not going to be too difficult for the Spurs to defend, and with San Antonio dropping 3s on the other end, this series probably won’t last long.
Broderick Turner writes for the Los Angeles Times (“Clippers vs. Spurs: How they match up”):
And the winner is… the Spurs in seven games. But I also picked Memphis to beat the Clippers in seven, too, and look where that got me – a trip to San Antonio. Oh, well.
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