“They’re going to come much harder next game,” said Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs after his team defeated the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday to take a 1-0 Semi Finals series lead. The Spurs didn’t play their best offensive game with 18 turnovers, but after a rough first quarter, they played sound defense against the explosive Clippers for an 18-point win.
The Clippers went down by as much as 19-points in game one, and had the Spurs taken care of the ball and converted on some missed transition opportunities, the Clippers could have fallen behind by 30 points. But there’s a reason the Clippers are playing in the second round, they’re a team that doesn’t give up as they displayed against the Spurs when they cut San Antonio’s lead all the way down to eight points at one point in the fourth quarter on Monday.
Before game two begins later today, let’s look at some areas both teams must improve in before tip-off.
Spurs vs. Clippers Playoff Statistics
- 1. Points: Spurs (103.4) – Clippers (90.9) = Spurs
- 2. Assists: Spurs (23) – Clippers (16.6) = Spurs
- 3. Shooting percentage: Spurs (48.3%) – Clippers (45.1%) = Spurs
- 4. Three point shooting percentage: Spurs (43.4%) – Clippers (36.6%) = Spurs
- 5. Turnovers: Spurs (12.6) – Clippers (14.3) = Spurs
- 6. Rebounds: Spurs (42.8) – Clippers (36.6) = Spurs
- 7. Personal Fouls: Spurs (19.2) – Clippers (25.6) = Spurs
- 8. Free Throw Attempts: Spurs (22.2) –Clippers (26.9) = Clippers
Statistical Leader: Spurs 7-1
Analyzing the Spurs’ offense and the Clippers’ defense
Plus in Spurs offense: The Spurs did well in pushing the pace in the first three quarters as they scored over more than 28 points in each quarter, but that fourth quarter was a different story. In the half court, all the Spurs had to do was pass the ball twice and they were bound to find an open shooter. The Spurs also did well by penetrating into the lane and kicking out to the open shooters. There was one sequence in the third quarter where all Boris Diaw did was drive right, two defenders followed him, Diaw threw the ball behind his shoulder, and there awaited a wide open Duncan for the easy 17-foot jumper.
Spurs’ offensive room for improvement: It basically starts and stops with turnovers. As expected, the long layoff for the Spurs did effect their passing and personal errors on the floor. The one thing any team must avoid is turning the ball over to the Clippers, as they excel at scoring off of those turnovers. It’s a big part of the their offense as they turned the Spurs’ 18-turnovers into 24 points on the other end. The Clippers also doubled Tony Parker a lot, and their big men were keeping him away from the paint very well. It makes me wonder if they can keep this up for an entire series, as Manu Ginobili was able to get into the paint on several occasions. Regardless, Parker is making the correct decisions as he led the Spurs in assists with 11, and the team logged 29 all together.
The Clippers defense on the other hand has a ton of issues to correct as their half court defense looked lost after the Spurs would pass the ball more than two times. I saw similar results the Spurs were having in the Clippers’ first round series. The Grizzlies are a grind out type of team, and if the Clippers struggled with them, then they’ve got their work cut out for them as the Spurs’ offense can create even more exploitations of the Clippers weakness.
Analyzing the Spurs’ defense and the Clippers’ offense
After that first quarter, the Spurs’ defense did a great job in holding the Clippers to less than 23-points in the last three quarters. Danny Green’s defense on Paul was very effective as it began in the second quarter, and continued until the end of the game. Eric Bledsoe gave the Spurs some major matchup problems, but when Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich decided to put Kawhi Leonard on Bledsoe, Bledsoe’s aggressiveness seemed to simmer down. With Paul being contained, the Spurs forced the Clippers to have to score through both Caron Butler and Blake Griffin, where they both scored a combined 30 points on a combined 30 shots.
If the Clippers want to have any chance in this series, Paul is going to have to stay aggressive against Green. Paul is the catalyst of the Clippers’ offense, if he’s quiet and struggling, then their whole offense becomes lost.
I expect a much more aggressive Parker, Stephen Jackson, Gary Neal, and Tiago Splitter to come out in game two. As Duncan said, this Clippers group will come out with a ton of energy, the Spurs will want to try to get them into the “catch-up” game early, so San Antonio can impose its will on the Clippers. So long as the Spurs limit their TURNOVERS, continue to share the basketball, continue to play team defense, and get an aggressive game from Parker, I expect a 15-18 point win for the silver and black, and a 2-0 series lead when the night is over.