The Spurs vs. Clippers series has not lived up to the hype, as San Antonio has dominated the series thus far. With injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers have been over-matched in the first two games of this series.
The Big Three of the San Antonio Spurs—consisting of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili—have thrived on controlling the tempo throughout the playoffs and in this series against the Clippers.
In fact San Antonio has outscored the Clippers in the first two games of the series by 16.5 points while at home.
However, the next two games of the series will be in Los Angeles, and you can bet the Clippers will be much more aggressive and take advantage of home court to even this series.
The Clippers will take on the Spurs in Game 3 at 3:30PM Eastern Time today at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times reported:
[The Clippers] cling to the hope that they will play better, that being home for Game 3 Saturday afternoon and Game 4 Sunday night at Staples Center will be an impetus for them. 'We're not completely out of this,' Blake Griffin, who has a sprained left knee, said after practice Friday. 'We've got two games at home and we have played better at home so we have to capitalize on that.'
Moreover, the Clippers will definitely utilize the home-court to their advantage, as they are 2-1 thus far in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at home in the Staples Center and were 24-9 during the regular season.
Meanwhile, the player that really needs to step up his game is Chris Paul. In the first two games of this series, Paul has averaged 6.5 turnovers a game, only eight points a game while shooting a little over 30 percent. He has not even attempted a free throw.
The injuries have clearly slowed down Paul's game: lacking explosiveness and being very tentative. According to Eric Patten at NBA.com, Chris Paul said following Game 2: "I think I've just got to get a little bit more aggressive and find my legs a little earlier. Get a little more aggressive and make some better decisions."
In order for this Clippers team to come back, Chris Palmer at ESPN The Magazine said it starts with Chris Paul.
San Antonio is great at controlling the tempo of the game: when they have Tim Duncan in the game slowing it down or if Tony Parker is in, then they are speeding it up. In contrast, Chris Paul has to dictate how the Spurs will run. Paul needs to recognize when the Spurs do this and change up his game to keep them guessing.
Palmer also went on to mention that Paul must adapt a shoot-first mentality and play more aggressively. As a result, the Spurs will look to double-team Paul, which will free up the Clippers jump shooters like Nick Young and Moe Williams with clean looks.
Moreover, with Paul being aggressive and sniping his way into the lane, he will bring back lob city to Los Angeles for this series, resulting in easy baskets for Blake Griffin. The Clippers have indeed struggled with shooting efficiency and no percentage is higher than an alley-oop.
Palmer reported The Clippers lead the NBA in alley-oop dunks with 107, thanks to several plays designed to get behind the defense.
Furthermore, the Clippers will storm back in this series against the Spurs, and it starts with Chris Paul as a vocal leader and being aggressive. It also helps the Clippers that they have home court advantage the next two games.