The Spurs have now dropped three in a row and are eighth in the Western Conference, ahead of the Grizzlies by a single game. Meanwhile, the Clippers have regained their footing; after losing five of seven, they’ve rebounded by winning three straight. San Antonio has one of the hardest remaining schedules in the league, so they’ll need to right the ship tonight in order to keep up in the playoff race.
With Kawhi Leonard scoring at will yesterday, there’s no doubt that the Spurs will be extra motivated to shut down their former franchise player in this game. That’s easier said than done, of course, but it’s still unacceptable to allow Leonard to shoot 9-12 from the field especially when they were missing two starters in Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka. San Antonio will need to come up with a much better defensive scheme if they hope to split this brief two-game series.
San Antonio Spurs (22-19) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (29-16)
March 25, 2021 | 7:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: LaMarcus Aldridge (Out - Not With Team), Keita Bates-Diop (Out - Hamstring), Lonnie Walker IV (Questionable — Wrist), Rudy Gay (Questionable — Foot)
Clippers Injuries: Jay Scrubb (Out — Foot), Serge Ibaka (Out — Back), Patrick Beverley (Out — Knee)
What to watch for
- Noah mentioned in the last preview that the Clippers are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league. Well, that came to fruition last night, with Los Angeles going 17-33 from beyond the arc. It’s unlikely that any team shoots over 50% from three in any game, much less two nights in a row. Even so, it’s still unacceptable to allow them to shoot so well from downtown, and the Spurs will need to pay attention to their corner threes in particular. The Clippers are top 10 in corner three percentage this season while San Antonio is bottom 10 in defending them, so that’s an area to watch out for tonight.
- Ivica Zubas got the better of Jakob Poeltl last night, hitting all five of his shots while grabbing eight rebounds too. Poeltl needs to do a much better job of defending his man and guarding the paint, especially since Serge Ibaka won’t be around to space the floor.
- As mentioned before, Leonard shot 75% from the field yesterday, which was the highest field goal percentage for him in a single game this season. He’s been especially hot as of late, shooting 55% over the last seven games. The tricky part about defending Leonard is that he’s improved dramatically as a playmaker, so he’s able to find open teammates when double-teamed. However, it might be worth employing that strategy since the Clippers have one less shooter on the court with Ibaka out. Paul George has also cooled off after a torrid start to the season, only shooting 40% from the field over his last seven matches.
- The trade deadline is today at 2 PM Central Time, and there’s a chance that both teams look different when they take the floor tonight. San Antonio has been rumoured to be listening to offers on their veterans, including Demar DeRozan and Patty Mills. Of course, LaMarcus Aldridge has played his final game as a Spur but we’re still not sure if he’ll be traded or bought out. With San Antonio’s history, it’s probably unlikely that anyone gets moved outside of maybe Aldridge, but we’re also in the midst of an unprecedented season, so everything’s on the table. Meanwhile, the Clippers are a lot more interesting since credible sources have linked them to Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball. With their lack of trade assets, it’s also unlikely that they make a blockbuster deal, but some minor tinkering could definitely happen considering their status as a legitimate title contender.