The Clippers Edge the Spurs in Game 1
*Photo via USA Today
The last game one of round one took place late Sunday night in Los Angeles California in a contest between the L.A. Clippers and San Antonio Spurs. The highly anticipated contest delivered with beautiful spacing, highlight dunks, and, of course, poor free throw shooting. Ultimately the third seeded Clippers did enough to defeat the Spurs, after a third quarter surge that sent them into the fourth with a 15 point lead that proved insurmountable.
Player of the Game- Chris Paul did everything and more to win this game. He dropped 32 points on only 20 shots and added in 7 rebounds and 6 assists. CP3 played stiff defense as well, holding Tony Parker to 10 points on 4 of 11 shooting from the field and forced him into committing more turnovers than assists.
Dud of the Game- Many Spurs are eligible for this distinguished honor, but the Dud of the Night would have to be a combo-pack of Boris Diaw and Danny Green. Combined they were an abysmal 4 of 23 from the field, which is good enough for 17 percent. Additionally, they were 1 of 12 from downtown in 49 minutes between the 2 of them.
Stat of the Night- Free throw shooting was, as predicted terrible; however, it was the Spurs that were responsible for the lowest percentage shooting 53.8 percent. The Spurs shot 78 percent from the stripe during the regular season, which was good enough for 4th best in the league.
Analysis- This game was all that many expected, it was up-and-down, the spacing and off-ball movement was beautiful, and Matt Barnes got tangled up with someone. More opinions were affirmed than there were questions raised. The talent of the Clippers is apparent and undeniable. When this athletic and long starting unit is focused, there isn’t a team in the league that can defend them. The unique skill set of Blake Griffin, coupled with the smarts and patience of a great lead guard like CP3 and a shooter who is active like J.J. Redick forces a defense to pick their poison. Every time the Clips run the elbow and free throw extended pick and roll CP3 delivers the ball to Griffin at just the right moment, which, unlike most teams, give’s Griffin 3 or 4 options, instead of 1 or 2. Because of off-ball action and Griffin’s incredible quickness, he can get space for an open jumper, pass to Redick off the curl, try to beat his man to the basket, or wait for the double to come and high-low into DeAndre Jordan.
The Spurs looked lost at times defensively trying to match Kawhi Leonard on Chris Paul and then trying to hide Parker on Redick. It made for some interesting switches and late rotations, which the Clippers capitalized on multiple times. The Spurs are great, but it was very clear that they do not have the athleticism to match the Clippers. The Spurs have made it a habit of winning by doing thing the right way. They need to slide to help quicker on defense, hit their free throws and focus more on the game than the officials. As for now, the Clippers head into game two on Wednesday at 10:30 EST on TNT, looking like a team that has finally matched their focus to their ability at home with a 1-0 series lead.