Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) vs. San Antonio Spurs (55-27)
This series will easily be the most anticipated series of the first round. Before the season started no one saw this as a potential 1st round match-up…. And I repeat NO ONE.
In this series we’ll have star power in Blake Griffin, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Chris Paul. We’ll have two great coaches in Doc. Rivers & Greg Popovich. We’ll also have two DPOY candidates in DeAndre Jordan and Kawhi Leonard competing in this match-up. Oh, and i didn’t even get a chance to mention all of the shooting we’ll see or the guys coming off of the bench.
During the early portion of the season the Clippers were a nice team. Once Blake Griffin got injured and missed over a month of play Chris Paul elevated the Clippers to new heights. He was scoring, defending, rebounding as well as facilitating. His play during that stretch was reminiscent to his days in New Orleans. When Blake Griffin returned the Clips continued to ball and surged to the finish line winning 14 of their last 15 games.
For a majority of the season the Spurs weren’t healthy. Injuries to Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard had the team looking older and slower. After all-star weekend the Spurs switched gears and resembled a team trying to repeat as champs. They were the best team in the league over the last portion of the season.
Having played four times the Spurs and Clippers split the season series 2-2. The Clippers had one 20 point victory while the rest of the games were within ten points.
PG: C.Paul vs. T.Parker
SG: J.Redick vs. D.Green
SF: Matt Barnes vs. K.Leonard
PF: B.Griffin vs. T.Duncan
C. D.Jordan vs. T.Splitter
In the postseason the Spurs are 8-3 against Chris Paul all time. In their previous match-up the Spurs swept the Clippers.
Beating the Spurs will be no short order for the Clips this time around. The Spurs have a plethora of shooters, guys who can defend and a lot of willing passers. Playing an up-tempo style fits right into the hands of the Spurs as well because that’s their game.
A lot of things ride on this series for the Clippers as well. They won’t have to deal with a distraction in Donald Sterling like they did last year. If the Clippers lose this series Rivers’ job will be at stake, a roster split up would be pondered and Chris Paul’s legacy would be tainted more. They have to make something happen now.
In this series the Clippers need to defend the three ball. If Chris Paul can lock-up Parker and Jordan continues his play on the defensive end it’ll be hard for the Spurs to generate points. If Parker is having his way, getting to his spots and distributing the ball the Clippers are going to have hell. Off the bench Crawford, Davis and Turkoglu need to be dominant. Especially Jamal Crawford. If JC isn’t on his game the Clips won’t have enough firepower.
Make Jordan beat you from the freethrow line. Contain Chris Paul. Go at Blake Griffin on both ends of the court. If Duncan can take Blake off his game and Leonard can defend Paul like he does every other guard/wing the Spurs will be alright. The Spurs know how to win on the road and they own a piece of the Clippers mentally. (Doc. Rivers is already panicking. On offense the ball can’t be stagnant either. Parker needs to be able to penetrate inside and give his shooters some open and easy looks. If he’s getting to his spots and shots are falling the Spurs will cruise to the 2nd Round.
Prediction Clippers beat the Spurs 4-2. It’s about time CP3 gets over the hump. The Clippers are better than ever and Chris Paul seems to be on a mission. Paul-Blake-DJ-JC will show why they’re ready to make that leap. Fun Fact: The Spurs don’t ever advance after winning the championship in the previous year. No repeating for them.