3-on-3 Gameday Preview: Spurs vs. Clippers Game 1
After far too long of a wait, we’re finally back to basketball. The Spurs come off their longest stretch of rest all season and face off against a team that went the distance and round one and last played on Sunday afternoon. We’re not sure yet who that helps or hurts.
1. Where can the Clippers hurt the Spurs the most in this series?
Charlie Widdoes, ClipperBlog: Can’t believe I’m saying this, but how about on defense? The Clippers showed against Memphis that they are capable of gritting and grinding when engaged, and Vinny Del Negro saw what his second unit could do when pressed into action. I could see a lineup led by Eric Bledsoe and Kenyon Martin causing some trouble for the Spurs if given the opportunity.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: At the rim and at the 3-point line. The Spurs defense is designed to prevent two kinds of shots: Shots at the rim and shots at the 3-point line. The Clippers are rather adept at getting both. Smart rotations and disciplined positioning are critical if the Spurs are going to force the Clippers into the long 2s that the Spurs defense thrives on encouraging.
Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: The 3-point line for one. Los Angeles is a good 3-point shooting team and they’ve got gunners galore, much like the Spurs. They’ve also got two physical bigs off the bench in Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin, don’t be surprised if they pick up some flagrant fouls in this series taking shots at Spurs attacking the basket.
2. Does the fact that the Clippers last played two days ago give them an advantage in Game 1?
Charlie Widdoes, ClipperBlog: If it weren’t for injuries to their two best players, I’d say yes. But Blake Griffin’s knee is sprained and Chris Paul’s hip flexor is clearly…flexed. Both gutted out impressive efforts in Game 7, but Blake neither is as explosive as they’d be if healthy, and if they don’t heal quickly, that takes away the Clippers’ biggest advantages.
Graydon Gordian, 48MoH: Originally I would have said yes but, given the injuries the Clippers suffered over the last couple games of their first round series, I’d say any advantage Los Angeles may have had is largely negated. Either way, I’ve always been confident that, despite the long break, Popovich would have the team ready to play.
Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: I’m going to say yes. I think the Spurs are going to start out slow and out of sync in the first half of Game 1. How quickly they can recover and get their games correct will determine how they do in Game 1. Who knows, the Clippers might be able to steal Game 1 in San Antonio. The rest will help San Antonio the longer this series goes, however.
3. On paper, is Tony Parker-Chris Paul the best matchup in this series?
Charlie Widdoes, ClipperBlog: On paper, yeah. But I’m actually looking forward to watching Paul’s backup, Bledsoe, get his turn on Parker. His series against the Grizz was a revelation to those who weren’t already on his bandwagon, and as the Clippers’ best perimeter defender, he’s the only one with the quickness to hang with TP. What can I say — as someone who makes Matt Bonner look like Usain Bolt, I am a sucker for speed.
Graydon Gordian, 48MoH: Well, it depends on what you mean by “best.” Their matchup is arguably the most critical, as they are the centerpieces of their respective offenses. However, if by “best” you mean most exciting or intriguing, I’ll take Tim Duncan vs. Blake Griffin. Despite Griffin’s injuries, I’m intrigued to see how Duncan’s intelligence clashes with Griffin’s athleticism.
Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: Yes. I’m very excited about this matchup. You’ve got two of the top 5 point guards in the league going head to head. They’re both great players with contrasting styles. Then you’ve got the fact that Chris Paul hates the Spurs for the same reason as the Phoenix Suns. Paul feels like his 2008 Hornets team was the better of the two some years ago and should’ve beat the Spurs in that second round series, but it didn’t happen. He’ll play with some extra fire in this series.