3-on-3 Gameday Preview: Spurs vs. Clippers Game 2
Game 1 of Spurs-Clippers went pretty much how we expected. The Spurs came out fairly rusty, the Clippers banged up, and San Antonio took a 1-0 lead in the series. What about Game 2? Well, we brought in D.J. Foster of ClipperBlog, who was nice enough to preview the series with us on the 4-Down Podcast, to break things down heading into Game 2.
1. What is the Clippers biggest problem offensively heading into Game 2?
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: The Clippers should just pack up and go home if Boris Diaw continues to shut down Blake Griffin in one-on-one situations. Yes, the Spurs taking away Chris Paul in the pick-and-roll is also a huge problem, but at least the Clippers’ roll men and spot-up shooters can get decent looks out of it. If Griffin hesitates and can’t find ways to score in isolation or on the block, the Clippers are going to have a hard time keeping up with a Spurs’ offense they showed no real signs of stopping.
Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: The Spurs effectively took away the Clippers’ PNR in Game 1, as Sebastian Pruiti so helpfully detailed yesterday. Put simply, the Clippers need to counter.
Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: I think it is as simple as getting into their halfcourt sets. It could be tired legs, it could be lack of preparation, but the Clippers didn’t seem able to get the shots they wanted in the half court in Game 1.
2. Should Clippers fans be concerned that Tony Parker shot 1-9 and the Spurs still won by double digits?
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: It can’t be a good thing for the Clippers, right? Overall though, I think the greater concern is that the Spurs were able to freelance their way to 108 points. The “random” offense in transition and screen-roll stuff shouldn’t yield that many open looks, but it did. And honestly? It could have been worse — the Spurs (as did the Clippers) missed some easy looks right at the rim. I don’t think the Clippers can afford to trap Parker in the pick-and-roll or over collapse on his drives — the Spurs’ will just shoot them out of the gym. Let Parker do his thing, and try to stay home on shooters and mitigate the damage from the perimeter.
Timothy Varner, 48MoH: In my opinion, the Clippers shouldn’t game for Parker’s scoring, they should attempt to limit his assists. The Spurs’ offense works best when they share the ball—when, say, 5 players score in double digits. The Clippers should tempt Tony Parker to become the ball stopper, giving him single coverage looks and hoping that 35 points from Tony Parker and limited scoring from everyone else is less problematic than the Spurs’ usual offensive swarm. In other words, their current defensive approach is backwards.
Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: Absolutely. Parker did have 11 assists, but even with the bad shooting night, the Spurs starters still had an unreal 138.1 offensive efficiency in Game 1. The Clippers may have to try and out-gun the Spurs, and I don’t see that happening.
3. Do the Clippers have the type of team defense capable of limiting San Antonio’s seemingly endless scoring options?
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: The Clippers defend initial action pretty well. If one pick-and-roll is all you got, the Clippers can usually snuff that. If you want to feed the block and that’s it, they can hold their own. The Clippers also feature some really good individual defenders (Paul, Bledsoe, Martin) that can change the game on that end. But here’s the problem — as a team, the Clippers don’t make snappy, quick rotations. They don’t fly out on shooters. They don’t stop wing penetration. They can’t handle ball movement. The Spurs are a nightmare matchup, because the chances of anyone getting selfish and trying to consistently go iso is pretty much non-existent.
Timothy Varner, 48MoH: No, the Clippers don’t have the right personnel to defend the Spurs. One of the better examples of this is the inability of LA’s frontcourt to chase guys off the arc. When the Spurs space the floor with three point shooters, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, DeAndre Jordan, and even Blake Griffin, despite his athleticism, provide little resistance. Popovich won’t play Duncan and Splitter together this series. Instead, he will always play one big (Duncan or Splitter) with a spacer (Bonner, Diaw, or a small-ball 4). It’s a recipe for a quick series.
Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: Not within the rules of professional basketball. It’s going to take some really physical play to slow down these Spurs, and while Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin can lay the smack down with the best of them, the Spurs have no problems making Game 2 a free throw contest.