In almost any other scenario, the idea of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combining for a dozen points -- a playoff low for the Big 3 -- would spell certain doom for the Silver and Black. But thanks in large part to a spectacular defensive effort and a banner night for Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs made it look easy against the Clippers on Friday night.
Entire articles can be dedicated to Whi's performance on both ends in Game 3 (and even simply his logic-defying oop), but credit should also go to the defensive effort put forth by the whole team -- especially Danny Green who split time between nagging Chris Paul and holding J.J. Redick to another poor shooting night.
It's not that the Spurs have completely cracked the code of how to stop the league's most potent offense -- they admittedly came out with the same strategy that they'd been rolling out the previous two games -- but they certainly might be getting better at it.
San Antonio didn't give Blake Griffin the open looks at the lane that had been making his eyes open in Games 1 and 2, and they're sending different defenders Paul's way, while switching on screens. Neither player appeared decisive with the ball in his hands, as at any point there were multiple white jerseys showing him their numbers. I expect to see more aggressiveness out of both today as they play as if the series is on the line.
But it's a tough situation for Doc Rivers to be in, given how thin his team is. After a strong shooting performance in Game 1, star sixth man Jamal Crawford has reverted back to his end-of-season ways, going a combined 5 of 25 over the last two games.
Oh, and the three-bombs started falling for San Antonio finally, as perhaps could've been expected: the Spurs have statistically shot much better at home vs. on the road this season (40% vs 34%), and this appears to actually be a thing. They hit 10 of 24 on Friday, and that included a number of wide-open corner looks. If the ball again moves like it did in Game 3, and the Clippers continue to struggle with their rotations, opportunities will be plenty.
When interviewed at shootaround on Saturday, Tony said he was feeling considerably better than he had been heading into Game 3, which is good news. He was already appearing a bit looser on Friday and was able to get to his spots. It'll be encouraging to see further improvement today.
After Game 1, Paul was noticeably winded, and Game 2 took even more out of him and Griffin. These are two elite competitors, but it could be that the shortened time in between games and all the effort they've exerted is catching up with them. The Spurs know the importance of going back to LA with the 3-1 advantage, and most signs point to that happening.
Matchup to watch: Tim Duncan vs. DeAndre Jordan -- if only to see the 39-year-old (Happy birthday, Tim!) continue to check one of the most athletically gifted centers of our age.
|Game 4, Western Conference 1st Round, 2015 NBA Playoffs|
|April 26, 2015|
|AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX|
|2:30 pm CST|
|TV: ABC - Radio: 1200 WOAI|
|Tony Parker||PG||Chris Paul|
|Danny Green||SG||J.J. Redick|
|Kawhi Leonard||SF||Matt Barnes|
|Tiago Splitter||PF||Blake Griffin|
|Tim Duncan||C||DeAndre Jordan|
|93.8 (17th)||Pace||94.7 (10th)|
|108.5 (7th)||ORtg||112.4 (1st)|
|102.4 (2nd)||DRtg||105.5 (15th)|
The perspective of Clippers fans can be found here: Clips Nation.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 13.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment:
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