Game Preview #21: San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Clippers

Welcome to Game 21

It's been a heck of a roller coaster ride so far.

Throughout this uneven start to our season, we have posed the question to one another, "Is it time to panic yet?" "How about now?" "Okay, NOW?"

The answer I settled on for myself was to wait until we had played our 21st game of the season. I picked 21 because it marked the first game of the second quarter of the season (honestly, I hadn't even thought about it being Timmeh's number, but that rapidly became the accepted rationale). Then I waited. And now, here it is! Unfortunately, at least for me, the direction we are taking has become no more clear than it was at Game 2, or Game 10, or Game 15. If anything, it may be murkier. One thing I know for sure is that this season, our season, is far from over. All possibilities remain on the table, and although that may not be the ideal situation, it is far from being the worst.

Note: I (Lauri) wrote this first little bit, and Latin D did all the heavy lifting, writing the rest. I am mightily grateful to him!

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San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Clippers
Where: Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA
When: December 13, 2009, 8:30 PM Spurs time
Watch: NBA TV, FSN Southwest

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How They Stack Up
10-4 Home 6-7
1-5 Road 3-5
101.1
Offense 94.4
96.9 Defense 97.0
47.6 FG% 45.5
38.3 3-pt% 29.5
74.1 FT% 73.3
42.3 Rebounds 41.3
14.8 TOs 15.7
7-3 Last 10 5-5
Won 2
Streak Lost 1
3rd, Southwest Position 4th, Pacific

Country/Time Zone Game Time
Argentina number 1 woooo!
11:30 PM
West Coast
6:30 PM
Pacman Country
10:30 AM
Central Europe 3:30 AM
Palestine/Egypt 4:30 AM
East Coast 9:30 PM
Snowville 7:30 PM
Perth, AUS 10:30 AM
Tokyo, JP 11:30 AM
Sydney, AUS 13:30 pM

Spurs
(11-9)
Matchups

Clippers
(9-12)

Tony Parker
TOs Are Me

Point Guard

Baron Davis has been healthy for the entire season so far and yet not much has changed for the Clippers. A full team with few injuries or setbacks has produced a better record, but the Clippers remain a team going nowhere fast. Baron's averages have gone slightly up (not from beyond the arc, where he's abysmal), but he proved in Golden State he needs to shoot a lot more to be effective.

I give Tony a lot of crap - we all tend to do, as Tim pointed out in his quarterly review. (Go read it!) Most of it is undeserved. He's not yet at this 2008-09 brilliance, where he seemed ready to take Tim's franchise spot, but if he cuts down on the number of silly TOs he will be close enough for the Spurs to become a true contender.

Advantage: Spurs


Baron Davis
Bollywood

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Keith Bogans
Bowen Placebo

Shooting Guard

Eric Gordon is an above average guard, and much of the Clippers' offense depends on him. However, Bogan's got a height advantage on him, and he's proved he can stay with the best guards in the league. I expect to see the Boogeyman force Eric into taking some ill-advised shots - and if Keith can keep him honest on the defensive side, the Spurs will be in a very good place.

Advantage: Clippers


Eric Gordon
Smile, and the world smiles with you

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Richard Jefferson
Air Spur

Small Forward

I like Al, I have to say. A tall, wiry forward that can score close to the basket and use his height to shoot over his defender. But honestly, I expected to see him farther along in his third season in this league. Is this his ceiling?

RJ has to be favored in this matchup, particularly considering the last two games. I have to apologize to whoever told me that the key might be to get RJ into the game early, because he or she was spot on. In the last two games we've gone to RJ early and often, and he's responded marvelously.

Advantage: Spurs


Al Thornton
Big Al

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Tim Duncan
I Am Legen... wait... dary

Power Forward

I still wake up some day wishing things had gone differently and Camby had become a Spur, as we all hoped he would. Despite his underwhelming performance on offense this season, he's still an incredible rebounder and a gifted passer when he wants to be. Playing next to Timmy we could've bullied teams on the boards, beat them into submission. Alas, it was not to happen.

Timmy is simply amazing these days. Camby will hustle, but we have this matchup.

Advantage: Spurs


Marcus Camby
Coulda beens, shoulda beens

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Antonio McDyess
Gramps Can Shoot

Center

Honestly, Kaman is likely to guard Tim instead of the Dice, so this head-to-head might be off. Regardless, Kaman shoots too much, doesn't rebound at the clip he used to a few seasons ago, and has the handles of a Butterfly Circus diver. He can still be dangerous when he's allowed to muscle his way into a good position, though, so we need to stay focused. If Dyess' shot goes in more than it has lately, I'll be happy.

Advantage: Clippers


Chris Kaman
I miss the hair

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Manu Ginobili
Man(u)lovin'

Bench & Role Players

No, seriously, Butler's should get him a job in a cop buddy flick.

Anyway, despite his killer grin, Butler's the kind of player we should leave open to shoot. And there's not much else in that Clipper bench, other than Sebastian Telfair irrelevance and DeAndre Jordan's might-bes. I expect the BAM to take names tonight, especially if Manu plays like he has in the last two games.

Advantage: Spurs


Rasual Butler
Best Smile Evah

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Gregg Popovich
Beard Forever

Coach

I could say a lot of bad things about Dunleavy, but I'll let you read what our fellow SB Nation blog Clips Nation has to say instead:

Dunleavy is overly arrogant and stubborn. His in-game decisions seem to be based more on stats and paper matchups, when he should be more sensitive to the flow of the game and the shifts in momentum. His failure to do so has cost the Clippers many close games, and it will inevitably contribute to future losses against teams they should beat.

Daaamn. Now are you happy we have Pop?

Advantage: Spurs


Mike Dunleavy
Pinky
images via yahoo.com

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Other Factors

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Intangibles

I like to think the team's gelling. Also, I expect Pop to rip them a new one after our 28 TOs and the consecutive 3rd Quarter Collapses (tm).

Advantage: Spurs

Mojo

Blake Griffin, the Savior (and I mean this - the kid will be huge), is now scheduled to return in January, and if that setback isn't an indication of the Clipper's eternal bad luck, I don't know what it is.

Advantage: Spurs

Winner

The Spurs are the superior team, no matter how you look at game. We need to win our second road game tonight, or I might just have to buy a katana and slit my gut.

Prediction: Spurs by double digits

Keys To The Game

  • Third quarter - This is getting ridiculous. We need to play a full game for once, or we won't be able to grow as a team. When the third quarter rolls around, you will find me biting my nails or clutching my mouse desperately. And that's not an euphemism.
  • Manu and RJ - Both come from consecutive great games. If the Big 4 start to click, we will be one of the most dangerous teams in the league - at last.
  • Turnovers - It goes without saying that we need to keep our turnovers below 13, right?

Last Time They Met

The Clippers last defeated the Spurs in Staples Center, so keep that in mind. Of course, that was in 2006, so keep that in mind, too.

Strength of Schedule

We're finally in rhythm, having played two games in the last four days, with no back-to-backs. That's as good as it gets, and we'd better enjoy it while it lasts, because our schedule has been incredibly home-heavy so far.

Meanwhile the Clippers come off one of our trademarked Spurs Lulls, not having played since Dec 8th when they lost to the Magic. If we start strong in the first quarter we might be able to gain an early lead as they find their basketball legs.

Some Other Reading


Clippers

Clips Nation - The Clippers SBN blog is a very good site, run by Steve Perrin. It's amazing that he does everything on his own, and I'm sure the Clippers fans appreciate his hard work.
Clipper Blog - The TrueHoop affiliate blog for the Clippers. Doesn't hold a candle to 48MoH.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: The standard I compare all TrueHoops blogs to. Or as Davis said, TBDTNOTP - The Best Damn TrueHoop Network Out There, Period.
Project Spurs: Part of the Bloguin network nowadays, and with plenty of great posts. Check out their Podcast!

Other Things of Possible Interest

Here's a song that illustrates the feelings of the Clippers fans towards their coach:

Where to Tune In

TV

This game is not on national TV, so for those of you staying at home, you might want to read on below...

Online

As always, NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area.

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to dmenendez@gmail.com for more assistance.

Spurs League Pass audio is still free this year, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).

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