NBA Playoffs 2012: Rapid Reaction to LA Clippers-San Antonio Spurs Series
The San Antonio Spurs' completion of the old-fashioned sweep on Sunday night means the Spurs will continue on their quest for their fifth ring under Tim Duncan and Co., while the Los Angeles Clippers start their fishing expeditions.
Here are some takeaways from the Clippers' playoff run and the Spurs' first two rounds of their run at the title.
Development of Eric Bledsoe
With Eric Bledsoe playing behind 2010 No. 1 pick John Wall at Kentucky, he wasn’t given enough freedom or touches to showcase his talents in college.
That wasn’t the case in this year’s series with the Spurs.
Bledsoe exploded for 23 points, five rebounds and four assists in Game 1, with eight of his points coming in the fourth quarter. Three games later, in Game 4, he posted 17 points and four rebounds on 8-of-10 shooting. Bledsoe again dominated in the final period with 11 points.
The former Wildcat’s lightning-quick first step and fearlessness in the lane make him tough matchup for any defender. The sky is the limit for the sophomore stud.
Expect the Clippers’ coaching staff to give him an expanded role next season, especially considering the possibility that teammates Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Nick Young might all be rockin’ new gear come October.
Blake Griffin needs to expand his game
These playoffs have solidified the notion that Blake Griffin’s offensive repertoire is still raw and a work in progress.
Griffin’s postseason numbers were nearly two points and three rebounds under his regular-season averages.
There is no doubting Blake’s athletic ability. He’s a human highlight reel whose explosiveness is rivaled by only a few players in the league today. However, his lack of a consistent, mid-range jumper, a reliable free-throw stroke and a defensive mindset taint his resume.
If Blake doesn’t step on the court next season with a 10- to 12-foot jump shot and more of a commitment to stopping points in the paint, expect his work ethic to begin to be questioned.
Tim Duncan is ageless
Tim Duncan’s postseason outputs are thus far escalating his case for being the best power forward of all time.
Duncan is 36 years old and playing some of the most efficient basketball of his career. Part of The Big Fundamental’s success has been due to Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich and his management of Duncan’s minutes. Most of it, though, has come as a result of the excellent physical condition that the former MVP is in and the confidence with which he is playing.
So far in the playoffs, Duncan is averaging 17 points and nine rebounds. Both his field-goal and free-throw percentages are well above his career postseason averages.
It’s unclear as to whether or not Duncan can continue his stellar play and lead his team to a fifth ring, but if the Spurs can continue dropping their opponents at the same, rapid pace, he might just have enough gas in the tank to finish the job.
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