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Clippers at San Antonio - Game Preview

2009/2010 NBA Regular Season
AT&T Center
March 13th, 2010, 5:30 PM
Prime Ticket, 980 AM
Probable starters:
Baron Davis
PG George Hill
Rasual Butler
SG Manu Ginobili
Travis Outlaw
SF Richard Jefferson
Drew Gooden
PF Tim Duncan
Chris Kaman
C Antonio McDyess


The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

In the history of the Clips Nation blog, the Clippers have never beaten the Spurs.  Think about that for a minute.  Since the beginning of the 2006-2007 season, when I started writing previews and recaps of every single game, the Clippers have played the Spurs 14 times and lost every damn one of them.  I have no idea what it would feel like to write a recap for a win over the Spurs.  Of course, the Spurs dominance of LA has been going on for even longer than that.  They've won 15 straight overall, and they're 42-5 in the Tim Duncan era.  And it's worse in San Antonio, where they have literally never won in the AT&T Center.  (Their dominance in that building is so complete that the Clippers actually got excited about winning a pre-season game there - we're talking about pre-season.)  So if the Clippers are hoping to avoid a winless road trip, they've gone to the wrong place.  At least they seemed to find their shooting touch last night in Charlotte.  If they can manage to shoot well AND not turn the ball over 20 times, they might have a chance.  Wait.  What am I saying?  They have no chance.

The Antagonist:

The Spurs could actually miss the playoffs this year.  They are currently in the seventh spot in the West, but they also just lost Tony Parker for most if not all of the rest of the regular season.  They've won six of their last seven, including two straight without Parker, and of course they'll likely win tonight, but those wins have been against the likes of New York and Minnesota.  After tonight they play eight out of nine against top quality opponents, five of them on the road.  The Spurs currently have a six game cushion over the Grizzlies in the loss column, so they're probably safe with only 19 games left on the schedule.  But it's amazing that it's even a possibility, given the unbroken string of excellence in San Antonio over the last dozen or so seasons.  Of course, if the Spurs have lost a step against the rest of the league, they're as good as ever against the Clippers.  In the first three meetings this season, the Spurs have dominated from wire to wire.

The Subplots:

  • Please, please, please, please let Duncan play the fourth.  The first three meetings between the Clippers and the Spurs have been so lopsided that Tim Duncan did not play a minute in the fourth quarter of any of them.  Three games, three early showers for Duncan.  And Tony Parker.  And two early showers for Ginobili.  Even if the Clippers can't win, it would be nice to keep it competitive.  You owe it to the rest of the league to put some more miles on Duncan and Ginobili.
  • Ugly losing streak.  The last time the Clippers won in San Antonio was almost eight years ago, January 2002.  In October of that year, the AT&T Center opened as the new home of the Spurs, and the Clippers have never won there - 14 consecutive losses. 
  • Manu Ginobili - starter.  With Parker out with a broken hand, Gregg Popovich is doing something he doesn't like to do - starting Manu Ginobili.  Pop says he needs the scoring and playmaking in that first unit without Parker, but obviously it hurts the second unit.  I've never much understood the seemingly stubborn insistance to bring Manu off the bench.  He's obviously a star, he's obviously important to the team - he should start and he should play more minutes.
  • Speaking of the bench.  You may need a program to recognize some of the guys playing on the Spurs second unit tonight.  Malik Hairston, Ian Mahinmi and Cedric Jackson all figure to get some minutes.  I'm pretty sure they all spent time in the D-league this season.  But with Parker hurt and Michael Finley in Boston after being waived, the Spurs aren't as deep as the old days.
  • Could it happen?  Could they win?  Sure.  And Monkeys could fly out of my butt.  OK, it's not as unlikely as the whole butt-monkey thing, but it seems pretty unlikely.  The Clippers are playing a back-to-back, with a LONG flight from Charlotte to San Antonio.  (The Spurs also played last night, in Minnesota, so that's kind of a wash I guess.)  More importantly, the Clippers just aren't playing well right now, not to mention that the Spurs own them.  Then again, we do get pleasantly surprised from time to time. 
  • Movie Quote: 

    School Counselor: I think it's a good opportunity to share the... feelings that this suicide has spurred in all of us. Now, who would like to begin?
    Tracy: I heard it was really gnarly. She sucked down a bowl of multi-purpose deodorizing disinfectant, and then SMASH.
    School Counselor: Now Tracey, let's not rehash the coroner's report. Let's talk emotions.

    Heathers (1988).  Man, I can't believe that Heathers was 22 years ago.  I like that movie.  I should watch it again.
  • Get the Spurs perspective at Pounding the Rock.