The Margin: San Antonio Spurs 102, Los Angeles Clippers 99
No Conclusion tonight/this morning. I don’t feel like I had a good handle on the individual performances of all the Spurs players, so we’re going with a Gordian/Mahoney-style Margin recap. The format for The Margin is one topic per difference in the final score. So with the Spurs winning by three points, we’ll talk three different things.
- Going into Game 3, I expected that to be the closest game of the series. And it was, until Sunday night. After the Spurs took a 3-0 and effectively ended the series, I expected Game 4 to be far less competitive than it was. Maybe that was ignorant of me considering the guy who plays point guard for the Clippers, but I didn’t anticipate this one going down to the wire.
- While Game 4 wasn’t the prettiest of basketball games and the Spurs’ execution wasn’t quite as sharp as it has been in these playoffs, the Spurs absolutely needed a game like this. With at least a few days off before Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals (which I saw on Twitter would be on Sunday, regardless of when OKC-LAL ends, although that’s not official) and the Spurs having played so few close games, San Antonio was in desperate need of a close game that tested their execution in crunch time. It’s impossible to accurately recreate tense playoff situations in practice, so for the Spurs to get a game like this could be vital, especially heading to a series, likely with the Thunder, that won’t produce big wins like the Spurs, and their fans, have gotten oh so comfortable with.
- The Spurs haven’t shot below 40% from the 3-point line since Game 3 of their first round series against the Jazz. That’s UNREAL. Despite seeming very similar to last year’s team aesthetically, one of the major differences is that the Spurs have far more consistent shooters than last year’s team. Those Spurs were heavily reliant on Gary Neal, Matt Bonner (who, I’m sad to say, is starting to recreate his playoffs performances of the past) and Richard Jefferson. This season the Spurs still get production from behind the 3-point line from Neal and Bonner, but also feature Danny Green, Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard (from the corners, at least). Even Boris Diaw will toss in a long range bomb from time to time. And while defenses are closing out harder on shooters in the playoffs, the fact that so many other parts of the Spurs’ offense is clicking is making it less of an issue. This offense is good.