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Matchup of the Game: Spurs vs. Clippers

The matchup of the game for Friday night's matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers will be between backups Manu Ginobili and Jamal Crawford.

This will be the fourth and final game between the two teams in the regular season with the Spurs looking to tie up the series at 2-2. Both men's average in this series is almost identical with Ginobili averaging 11.3ppg to Crawford's 12ppg this season. While both men can score, Ginobili is more of a balanced player on the offensive end who is also looking to distribute the ball. He's making up for his lower point average with 3apg to Crawford's 2.3apg in this series. Ginobili will have a hard time guarding Crawford, who's a streaky shooter who never takes a bad shot in his book. Manu will have to play hard on both ends of the floor this series despite the Spurs having a deep bench.

What Ginobili must do on offense:

Crawford is not known for his defense, so Manu must keep active and having him move his feet on defense. Manu is very crafty on offense by using picks and moving off the ball and that'll be the best defense too. Ginobili is just shooting 33% in 21mpg against the Clippers this season, but look for him to up that average with the Oklahoma City Thunder creeping up on San Antonio for the first seed. The good news for Spurs fans is that Ginobili is shooting 44% from the 3-point arc against the Clippers and those will be badly needed tonight.

What Ginobili must do on defense:

With Manu on the floor, Crawford hasn't been as explosive this series. He's shooting 50% from the paint area, but has only shot 2-4 with Ginobili on the floor there. Manu's underrated defense plays a big part in this matchup tonight also. He's also shooting 33% (2-6) from the 3-point arc where much of his success has been from above the arc. This is usually because the Clippers look to outlet quick and the wing 3-point shot is the quickest and easiest shot in transition. The majority of his shots have come from mid-range where he's shooting 38% (3-8) and that's a spot the Spurs welcome him to shoot from. San Antonio can't afford to give him three point shots with his 37% season average from there and can't have him drive in with the athletic bigs of Los Angeles ready to put back any misses with the Spurs' big men helping. Ginobili must stay in front of him above the arc and protect the drive while forcing him to shoot a long two shot to get the better of this matchup.

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Matchup of the Game: Spurs vs. Clippers

The matchup of the game when the San Antonio Spurs (43-12) visit the Los Angeles Clippers (39-17) will be between Tony Parker and Chris Paul.

Both men are the heart of their teams' offense, which will play a huge part tonight. Both players are having incredible seasons with Paul averaging 16.6ppg and 9.6rpg while Parker is having an impressive MVP like season with 21ppg and 7.7apg (career highs). These teams have met two times already this season with the Clippers getting wins over San Antonio to create a 2-0 regular season record against the Spurs. If the Spurs want to strike some doubt in the Clippers if they were to meet in the playoffs, S.A. must get a win today to try to have a chance of evening out the series by the end of the year.

What Parker must do on offense:

With Paul on the court, Parker shot 50% (4-8) in the painted area while only shooting 25% (2-8) from mid range. Parker must shoot better from mid range to open up the paint for drives. If Parker can successfully shoot a better percentage from mid range, his driving will command the attention of the defense and leave three point shooters open for clean shots. It will also make Paul use his legs more on defense while playing Parker close instead of playing back and forcing him to shoot.

What Parker must do on defense:

With Parker on the court, Paul shot just 33% (2-6) from the painted area, but he did most of his damage from mid range where he shot 100% (8-8) so far this season. Parker and the Spurs need to force Paul to try to create his own shot and leading him to the defensive help. With Paul driving to the paint more and taking a harder shot over a big, he'll be using up his energy with those steps over shooting a jumper. Paul trying to shoot closer shots will also mean that Parker could streak out during the inbounds over Paul shooting a jumper and being able to recover on defense.

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