NBA Playoffs 2012: Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs Recap
Looking back at Game 2 between the Clippers and the Spurs, I couldn't help but think I was watching a replay of Game 1. The Spurs dominated the control and pace of the entire game except for a seven-minute period in the second quarter. San Antonio easily looked like the number one seed in the West and a superior team to the Clippers.
San Antonio jumped out to a quick double-digit lead, and it looked to be the start of a long night for the Clippers. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan were executing the pick-n-roll to perfection. Whether it was DeAndre Jordan or Blake Griffin defending it, they both looked lost and continuously left their man open.
On the other side of the court, Griffin seemed to be having problems posting up Boris Diaw. He forced shots early and looked to be getting more frustrated after every shot. The first quarter was flooded with the Clippers taking contested shots every trip down. Vinny Del Negro finally inserted the bench, which brought a spark and ended the first on a 10-2 run to bring the deficit under double-digits.
Time and time again, the Spurs were catching Los Angeles in bad defensive matchups through their offense. Manu Ginobili found himself with Griffin on him multiple times in which he was able to exploit for a great shot.
Spacing is a key component of San Antonio's offense, and they might be the best in the league at it. Tony Parker was a lot more aggressive—after struggling in Game 1—getting out and starting the fast break.
Transition defense was hurting the Clippers and gave the Spurs too many easy baskets. Towards the end of the half, the Spurs fouled DeAndre Jordan to put him on the free throw line instead of giving the Clippers a full possession. This showed me the difference between the two teams. Putting a 50 percent free throw shooter at the line was a smart move by Gregg Popovich.
Jordan eventually missed both and gave the Spurs the last shot of the half. At the end of two quarters, the Spurs were only up four when they easily could of been up by 10 or more. Chris Paul, who didn't play well in Game 1, was in foul trouble and on his way to repeating the same performance.
How many games will the series go?
What plagued the Clippers in Game 1 was the three-point shooting from the Spurs. Well, nothing changed in Game 2 where the Spurs were getting wide-open looks from the three-point line. San Antonio ended up making 10 three's, which is back-to-back games with 10-plus three-pointers.
Los Angeles was not closing out on shooters, but it was also the Spurs offense that was key to getting the open shots. Whether it was the starters or the bench, it didn't matter for the Spurs; shots were falling in for everyone.
The third quarter looked exactly like the first except for the Clippers making a little comeback.
After three quarters, the Spurs were shooting 52 percent from the field. At 49 percent, the Clippers weren't far behind, but they couldn't just keep trading baskets. They needed to step up their defensive effort in the fourth quarter if they wanted to win the game.
Once the fourth quarter started, it was certain that there wasn't going to be a Memphis Grizzlies-like comeback for the Clippers. San Antonio's offense was a well-oiled machine that was showing no signs of stopping. Their guards were beating defenders off the dribble and either getting open layups or passing it out for an open three.
With the Clippers down double-digits most of the fourth quarter, I found it odd that Del Negro waited until there was only seven minutes left to bring back the starters. I know Griffin and Paul are hurt, but if they were going to make a run against a veteran team like this, they needed their best players on the court.
It didn't really matter with Paul out there, because it really looked like his injuries were taking their toll on him. He didn't look like the Chris Paul we've seen over the years. With seven minutes left in the fourth, the Spurs were shooting 67 percent for the second half, which was a shooting clinic. San Antonio ended up winning Game 2 105-88 and added another double-digit playoff win to their resume.
After the game, I took a look at the box score and found that the Clippers actually shot better than they have most of the playoffs; they just ran into a better team.
Shooting 49 percent from the field and making 9 out of 13 three's, you wouldn't think a team would have just lost by 17 with those numbers. Unfortunately, when you take 16 fewer shots than the other team, the chances are pretty high that you might lose by that much.
San Antonio is easily the superior team of the two and doesn't need to change a thing to keep on rolling in this series. If the Clippers want to get back into this series, they need Chris Paul to show up, and they need to find a way to get him some space. He's being surrounded every time down by the Spurs defense and not being able to get his game going.
The three-point line is huge. They can't keep giving the Spurs wide-open shots from outside, or else they're keep going to be getting hurt by it. On top of that, they need to actually play some defense overall. I personally don't see the Clippers making a comeback, because I don't think they have a good enough defense to contain the Spurs' offense.
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