Spurs vs. Clippers: “Signature” Wins and Do They Matter?
Update: Tiago Splitter back in uniform against the Clippers.
The San Antonio Spurs take on the Los Angeles Clippers tonight. It’s another chance for them to get a win vs. an elite team (not sure how we’re defining elite, but Chris Paul + Doc Rivers = Fringe Elite, I think). The Spurs are also in the midst of this crazy part of the schedule where they play five games in four different time zones in a week’s time. At this point you’re probably more worried about health than anything else.
However, if there’s one knock to the Spurs awesome start, it’s that they haven’t beaten a team they’d likely see in the second round of the playoffs or deeper (one depending on where Golden State ends up). Portland, Oklahoma City and Indiana (and Houston depending on where they end up) are the only top tier teams the Spurs have faced so far and they’ve lost. Two of those games have been on the road and the other came against Indiana, who plays like a team possessed most nights. Playing that hard may come back to bite the Pacers, but that’s neither here nor there. The question is whether we should care this early in the season that the Spurs are only losing to really good teams?
At the moment, it doesn’t matter much unless you care about the outside perception of the Spurs, which a lot of fans do. You could argue that especially against Portland and Indiana, it would be important to win and win convincingly, even early in the regular season. Don’t let these teams think they can beat you. There’s a couple problems to that theory. First off, both of those teams are really good and it’s not like you can just decide to win. Second, Indiana especially isn’t going to let the regular season affect who they think they can and can’t beat in the playoffs. They already think they’re better than Miami, so would a couple of regular season losses to the Spurs change their thinking on how they fair in a seven game series. The fact is, every team in the league knows the Spurs have the ability to beat them in a series. Not many teams can say that and losses in November and December won’t change that.
The fact is, the Spurs are an elite team and wins against the other elite teams will come. A win against Paul and the Clippers at the end of a brutal week of travel would be a signature win against a Western Conference rival. But if they lost it shouldn’t be looked at as anymore than it’s their fifth game in seven nights and they’re on the road against a very good team. This game won’t change much, but it’ll like be fun to watch. Spurs and Clippers tip-off from Staples Center at 9:30 p.m. Central time and on KENS.