We continue with our conference semifinal team previews!
Beat Utah in the first round, 4-0.
Seed: #1 (West)
Stat Leaders: Tony Parker (18.3 PPG, 7.7 APG), Tim Duncan (9.0 RPG, 1.5 BPG), Kawhi Leonard (1.3 SPG).
Opponent: #5 Los Angeles Clippers, 40-26
Record Against Them This Season: 3-1
Writers: Michael De Leon (@mdeleon), Jeff Garcia (@sa2ny2004)
Web Site: Project Spurs
The Spurs roared through the first round against Utah. Now they face the… Los Angeles Clippers. Safe to say that they’ve never faced them in the playoffs. I bring back the boys from Project Spurs, Michael De Leon and Jeff Garcia, to talk Spurs ball. I discuss with them their easy series win over the Jazz and the Spurs’ upcoming match-up with the Los Angeles Clippers.
A LOOOOOOOONG rest for the Spurs. This could only be good for the team, right?
MIKE: There’s always the debate of rest vs. rust. In a truncated season, I think the extended rest for the Spurs will work in their favor, especially since Manu Ginobili just started hitting his stride in game four against the Jazz. The Spurs also did well in games after 2-3 days of rest this season.
JEFF: Oh, of course. Mainly for the Spurs’ “Big 3.” Say what you want about the Spurs being young overall, the Spurs go as the “Big 3” go. Last season, the Spurs entered the playoffs banged up with injuries to Duncan and Ginobili and we all know what happened versus the Grizzlies. Now that this team is fully rested, healed, and raring to go, it could spell doom for the Clippers.
Anyone in the team stood out for you in that series against Utah?
M: Obviously Tony Parker, but aside from him, his current roommate and French teammate Boris Diaw. In a very underrated move, Pop inserted Diaw into the starting lineup against a team with a very solid frontline and the move paid dividends. Diaw showed his versatility in defending inside, fighting for rebounds and knocking down outside shots.
J: Stephen Jackson. Remember he hadn’t played for some time while with the Bucks so when he finally got to the Spurs, he was still trying to find his groove. It took a while but he found his stroke versus the Jazz and chipped in with some timely assists, and three-point shooting. Now versus the Clippers, Jackson will need to be a player to match the Clippers speed. I expect him to be a huge factor in the second round.
Boris Diaw started against the Jazz. Any changes in the line-up for the next round?
M: Pop usually doesn’t mess with what works. While the Spurs could potentially have some matchup problems with whoever Diaw defends, they would still have them with Blair in the starting lineup, so I don’t see anything changing.
J: If anything, I see more playing time for DeJuan Blair. The Clippers size with Griffin, Evans, Martin and Jordan almost mirrors the size Utah presented the Spurs. Almost. With Blair, they can use him to push Clippers’ big away from the paint since the four mentioned above are not reliable outside shooters.
The Spurs draw… the Clippers. Yeah, I know. Keys for the Spurs to win.
M: Probably for me to stay away from the AT&T Center because of my track record with Spurs-Clippers games. The Spurs need to keep the Clippers defense honest and win the way they have all season, with offense. If the offense and the second unit can be as good as they have been all season, they’ll give themselves the best shot they have.
J: 1) Dare Griffin, and Jordan to hit perimeter shots. 2) Keep the Clippers’ three-point shooters from getting hot from the arch like they did in the regular season vs. San Antonio. 3) Bench production. The Spurs have a superior bench which will be the difference in the series.
M: I’ve been stuck between 5 and 6 games, depending on Griffin’s health. I’ll know more after the first game, but I’ve got Spurs in 5 for now.
J: Spurs in 6.
Anything else you want to say?
JEFF: Let’s hope Mike doesn’t go to any Spurs vs. Clippers home games in this series. We all know what happens to the Spurs when they face the Clips when Mike is in attendance.
PHOTO CREDITS: 1) Steve Dykes/Getty Images. 2) Colin E Braley/AP. 3) D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images.