The Spurs had moments of brilliance at both ends of the court last night, they weren’t perfect, but it was good enough for another win.
What went right for the Spurs?
I can’t say enough about Tim Duncan. Once again, the big guy was phenomenal. The Clippers clearly don’t have an answer for him and he made them pay, shooting 9-14 from the floor for 18 points and throwing in 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. It’s great to see a guy who’s been underrated for so long step up on such a big stage and remind the world that he’s one of the best to ever play.
Not to be outdone was Duncan’s counterpart, Boris Diaw. The Spurs look like geniuses for picking this guy up midseason. Diaw was thought of as overweight and out of shape, but he’s playing great in this series. Last night he hit all 7 of his shots including two 3-pointers for 16 points. He also showed why he’s one of the best passing big men in the game, dropping 4 assists.
It was also great to see Tony Parker get it going again. Parker didn’t shoot all that well, going 8-19, but he made up for it by going 6-6 from the free throw line, totaling 22 points.
Defensively, once again the Spurs managed to keep a lid on Chris Paul. Paul scored just 10 points and only had 5 assists. He hit two quick 3-pointers in the third quarter, one of which brought the Clippers within 7, and it looked like he might finally be getting things going, but when he came into the game in the fourth quarter, the Spurs made sure he wouldn’t be leading any sort of comeback.
What went wrong for the Spurs?
I’ve said it before, you can’t let the Clippers’ shooters get hot from the outside. The Spurs are really going to have to get their perimeter defense going. The Clippers shot 9-13 from long range, that’s just under 70%. Any time it looked like the Clippers might claw their way back into the game it was because they were hitting 3’s. The Spurs are going to need to make sure to get a lid on that when they travel to L.A. because those 3-pointer streaks can be huge momentum builders in front of the home crowd.
On the Spurs’ side, there were times when the 3-pointer was falling, and times it wasn’t. When they weren’t hitting, their offense really seemed to struggle. Even if they are open looks, if they’re not going in they need to get the ball inside, get a few easier buckets, and then get the 3 going again later.
One final quick note. If Tiago Splitter wants to keep getting playing time in this series, he’s going to have to hit his free throws. 1-5 from the line isn’t going to cut it.
Aside from that the Spurs played great, and it showed as they won easily again by double digits. Travelling to L.A. isn’t going to be a picnic, but if the Spurs keep doing what they’ve been doing, they may be coming back home with a sweep.