Clippers vs. Spurs: Tony Parker vs. Chris Paul's PG Battle Will Determine Series
Coming into the second-round series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers, everyone looked forward to the matchup of elite point guards in Tony Parker and Chris Paul.
Things haven't exactly played out that way as Parker has dominated Paul en route to the Spurs' 2-0 series lead, but there's still a lot of basketball left to be played and the winner of this All-Star point guard battle will still be on the team that advances to the Western Conference Finals.
Throughout the first two games of the series, Parker has made a statement that it is he and not Paul who is actually the best point guard in the Western Conference. Watching this series, it's hard to argue that fact.
Neither guys' numbers are great at this point.
Paul is averaging only eight points and 7.5 assists, shooting only 32 percent from the floor in the series. This comes after a spectacular first-round series in which Paul averaged 20.4 points and 7.1 assists, while shooting 46 percent from the floor in the Clippers' opening-round series win against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Who's the better point guard?
Parker has been a little bit better, averaging 14.5 points and eight assists, but is also only shooting 32 percent from the floor.
But the difference has been Parker's effort on the defensive end of the floor. He's been very aggressive with Paul, always staying in front of him and not getting screened. When Parker's playing that type of defense the rest of the team feeds off it.
There's no arguing the fact that Paul has been pretty lousy so far, but there's still time for him to be a major factor in the series.
With the series shifting to the Staples Center for Game 3, the Clippers need to have Paul play his best for them to have any chance of handing San Antonio their first loss in the past 16 games.
It's understandable that he's still suffering from the strained right hip flexor he suffered in Game 5 of the Clippers' first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, but the facts are that if Paul plays the way he did in the first two games of the series, the Clippers will get swept.
However, if he's aggressive with the ball and knocks down his shots, then the Clippers have a chance to get back into the series.
Paul may be the best facilitator in the game, but the Clippers have better offense when he's looking for his shot. The assists will still be there, but he has to be more of an overall factor on the offensive end.
He can't let Parker frustrate him defensively, as it's clear that the 30-year-old Frenchman has had the upper hand on him so far.
Parker has had the upper hand on Paul defensively and offensively. The Clippers guard is widely considered around the league as one of the best defensive point guards in the game, but that's not showing up consistently through two games.
Everything Parker is doing to Paul, the same can be done to Parker. Parker has forced Paul into 13 turnovers in two games. On the other hand, Parker has only seven miscues and only 17 throughout the entire postseason.
Paul has to pressure Parker into mistakes with the ball and the clippers need to get out and run off them.
Saturday's Game 3 isn't just pivotal for the Clippers but for Paul individually as well. He needs to send a message that he's still the best point guard in the game. It's going to take that type of effort from him for the Clippers to get back into the series.
A lot can happen the next two days in Los Angeles. The Clippers can get back in the series, or the Spurs can look forward to the Western Conference Finals.
How it plays out will all be determined by Parker and Paul.
May the best point guard win.
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