The San Antonio Spurs are traveling west to take on the Los Angeles Lakers this Thursday night, and it promises to be a thrilling battle between teams that are forming a relatively new NBA rivalry.
These franchises are both vying for control of the Western Conference, and it wouldn’t be surprising in the least to see one of them nab the No. 1 seed and the other settle for the No. 2 come playoff time.
That makes this matchup extremely important, so let’s take a look at where you can watch this nationally televised game, who to keep an eye on, make a prediction for the final score and more.
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: Thursday, Feb. 21 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBA League Pass (Subscription required)
Records: San Antonio Spurs (43-12) at Los Angeles Clippers (39-17)
Spurs Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
No major injuries to report
Clippers Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
PF Trey Thompkins, Out, Knee
PF Lamar Odom, Questionable, Eye
Key Storyline: Spurs Attempt to Overcome Clippers
After being swept by San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals in last year’s playoffs, the Clips have certainly wrought vengeance during the 2012-13 campaign.
L.A. is 2-0 against the Spurs thus far, winning the first meeting by a whopping 22 points and proving that things are going to be different this season, but this third matchup is certainly going to be tough.
The Spurs have had ample opportunity to rest their core of aging stars, meaning Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker will be out in full force on Thursday evening, looking to finally vanquish their newfound rival.
Expect coach Gregg Popovich to focus all his team’s efforts on stopping Chris Paul, as the superstar PG was absolutely dominant in the initial two games between these teams.
Should San Antonio steal a win on the road here, it will have a chance to even things up on March 29 in the AT&T Center.
Key Matchup: Tony Parker vs. Chris Paul
As previously mentioned, CP3 was a nightmare for the Spurs to deal with in the initial matchups. The All-Star MVP was able to average 14.5 points and 10 assists while shooting 54.2 percent from the field in those contests.
While that’s impressive, his defense against Parker was even more special, limiting the San Antonio speedster to just 7.5 points (on 38.9 percent shooting) and 6.0 assists the two times they faced off. The Clips are the only team to hold Parker to a single digit point average this year.
If that trend continues, Lob City is going to easily run away with a third straight victory in their first game after the All-Star break.
However, a fully rested and rejuvenated Spurs roster will have a chance to run with the LAC, and anything could happen as long as Parker isn’t smothered by CP3’s defense.
When these two elite teams clash, there’s no telling who is going to come out on top.
Which team will win?
Regardless, we’re leaning towards the Clips in this one, as they seem to have the Spurs' number in 2012-13. Young stars like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Paul and others learned the painful sting of postseason defeat at the hands of the Spurs last spring, and won’t soon forget.
The Clippers have come back stronger than ever this year and seem determined to embarrass San Antonio every opportunity they get. If things continue going this way, we imagine that L.A. cannot wait to meet up with the Spurs in the coming playoffs.
Los Angeles Clippers 97 – San Antonio Spurs 94