Chaos isn't a pit -- chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm or the gods or love, illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.
-Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish
Chaos is, indeed, a ladder to the top, but it's equally a 2015 Spurs-Clippers playoff game.
It's San Antonio's frenzied ball movement tugging at the threads of LA's red-and-blue sweater, slowly making it come unraveled again and again.
It's the superhuman Clippers stars commanding the attention of ten eyeballs with every dribble, spin, and dive to the hoop.
It's Spurs fans around the world screaming obscenities when Austin Rivers double-clutches a buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter. (Or was that just me?)
The Clippers were pegged as the worst draw the Spurs could have had in the first round, and the nature of these five games -- despite three of them coming out in their favor -- demonstrates why. The pace has, on the whole, been faster than the tempo San Antonio played at this year (93.8, right at the league average), and it hit a feverish new high in Game 5 (101.3, easily higher than the league-leading, league-steamrolling Warriors this season). It's been a shrewd chess match of basketball minds -- albeit one played over a convulsing San Andreas fault line, where each piece can only move as faithfully as the tumult allows.
Pop's ability to manage entire stretches of play through considered tactics and defensive schemes has given way to calculated gambits: rotating multiple defenders on Chris Paul, conceding 18-footers to Blake Griffin, and the much-reviled Hack-a-DeAndre strategy.
Tuesday night's Game 5 had a flurry of 50-50 balls, momentum-swinging calls, timely denials of the series' most unstoppable force, and an uncharacteristic amount of San Antonio three-balls splash through the hoop, especially for a road game.
Survival in such conditions requires a lot of things, improvisation being one of them:
That expression on Boris' face says it all, doesn't it. There's been no time to question or relish the success of an individual play. Smirk or shrug, then run back. It's hard to imagine anything different as things return to San Antonio for Game 6. Pop will play his hand as best he can, and we'll just have to wait and see what comes on the river.
While Tony's leg seems OK, Tiago didn't look good at all in Game 5. In nine minutes, he put up a game-low minus -13 while on the court. He picked up three fouls in that span and missed both his free throws, while struggling to muster much resistance against Griffin.
The Spurs bench once again showed its superiority last game, and will be counted on again to hit some big shots. Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli haven't shied away from the big moments, and Matt Bonner showed his dual-threat value as well, knocking down a three and using four fouls in just four minutes.
The Clippers have reason to be confident tonight. They stole the last game in San Antonio and, were it not for some bad judgment calls and terrible three-point shooting in Game 4 (1 of 14!), the narrative tonight could be completely different.
But that didn't happen, and now a team with a rotation of eight, of which only three or four have been reliable contributors, will need to come into the home of the defending champs and win for a second time. Of course it's possible, but I think the Spurs emerge with the victory tonight, and move one rung up the ladder.
Matchup to watch: Tim Duncan on Blake Griffin. Griffin is a problem. He's catching the ball all over the floor and immediately trying to do bad things with it. He scored just nine points in the second half of Game 4, with Big Fun as his primary defender. He won't start on Blake, but it'll be interesting if Pop turns to him at times.
|Game 6, Western Conference 1st Round, 2015 NBA Playoffs|
|April 30, 2015|
|AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX|
|8:30 pm CST|
|TV: TNT - 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.
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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