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Clippers Vs. Spurs - Western Conference Semis - Game 3 Preview

2011/2012 NBA Playoffs - WC Semis - Game 3

Spurs Lead Series 2-0
Game 1 - May 15th, 2012, in San Antonio, Spurs 108, Clippers 92
Game 2 - May 17th, 2012 , in San Antonio, Spurs 105, Clippers 88
Game 3 - May 19th, 2012, 12:30 PM, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
Game 4 - May 20th, 2012, 7:30 PM, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
Game 5 - May 22nd, 2012, TBD, San Antonio, AT&T Center *
Game 6 - May 25th, 2012, TBD, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center *
Game 7 - May 27th, 2012, TBD, San Antonio, AT&T Center *
* if necessary
Probable starters:
Chris Paul
PG Tony Parker
Randy Foye SG Danny Green
Caron Butler
SF Kawhi Leonard
Blake Griffin
PF Boris Diaw
DeAndre Jordan
C Tim Duncan
Key reserves:
Eric Bledsoe
PG Gary Neal
Mo Williams SG Manu Ginobili
Nick Young
SF Stephen Jackson
Reggie Evans
PF Matt Bonner
DeJuan Blair
Kenyon Martin
C Tiago Splitter

The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

Two games, two double digit victories for the Spurs. The Spurs are shooting better than 50% from the field with an effective field goal percentage in the high 50s. But most troubling of all, Chris Paul is averaging 8 points and 6.5 assists in the two games. The to do list for the Clippers heading into Game 3 is pretty long, and not very easy. Slow down the Spurs offense. Rebound better. Stop turning the ball over. And get Paul going. Down 2-0, this game is as close to a must win as it gets without actually being an elimination game. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. The Clippers are back at home and should have a huge and enthusiastic crowd behind them -- we'll see if the change of venue makes a difference. As always, be sure to check out the Series Preview and the Game 2 Preview for more information.

The Subplots

  • Key Spurs Metrics:
    Pace: 92.9 (7th of 30 NBA Teams)
    Off Rtg: 110.9 (1st of 30)
    Def Rtg: 103.2 (10th of 30)
  • Key Clippers Metrics:
    Pace: 89.2 (27th of 30)
    Off Rtg: 108.5 (4th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 105.7 (18th of 30)
  • National TV. For the second weekend in a row, last Sunday for Game 7 in Memphis and today, the Clippers are on the ABC game. Tip off is at 12:30.
  • Sixteen straight, six straight. The Spurs just keep right on rolling. Not only have they won 16 in a row, they have really been pushed in any of the games. They have not had a bad game in over 5 weeks -- that's pretty amazing.
  • Griffin should shoot. Bear with me on this one, but what if Griffin came out in Game 3 taking the open 15 footer from the beginning of the game? Griffin has always been best when he catches and shoots with confidence. The way the Spurs are defending him, they're daring him to take the jumper, taking away his drive, and throwing a wall of defenders in front of him when he tries to get closer to the rim. So rather than shooting the jumper as a last resort, what if Griffin shot it like he actually wanted to shoot it? In the next-to-last game of the regular season, Griffin made seven jumper against Atlanta. Some things are going to have to go right for the Clippers against the Spurs -- why not take that shot without hesitation in this game and see if anything good comes of it? We know that it's going to be open based on the way the Spurs are defending him.
  • Bledsoe. Eric Bledsoe continues to be the Clippers best player in this series. In both the first two games, Bledsoe and the reserves have led a comeback to make the game more competitive, only to have the starters get manhandled again. Vinny Del Negro went to Bledsoe earlier than he usually does in Game 2, but he needs to use him earlier still, and leave him out there.
  • Green and Diaw. It's one thing getting lit up by a rejuvenated Tim Duncan or Tony Parker. But it hurts when Danny Green and Boris Diaw are killing you. Green's effective field goal percentage in Game 2 was 100% (4 for 6, all three pointers) and Diaw's was BETTER than 100% (7 for 7 including 2 three pointers). That's just brutal.
  • Home court advantage. The Spurs have really only held serve so far. Yes, they've looked dominant in doing so, but they just won the games on their home court. The Clippers can't worry about how they're going to win four games in this series. First things first, they have to win today's game at home.
  • Defending Paul. Are the Spurs doing a masterful job of defending Paul, or is Paul just too beat up to be effective? The Spurs were an offensive juggernaut this season, but not really known particularly for their defense. It seems to me that Paul is beating himself more than anything. Thirteen turnovers in two games is particularly uncharacteristic.
  • Injuries. With games every other day for the last two weeks, and a back to back this weekend, the walking wounded of the Clippers have gotten no time to get healthy. This does not bode well for the series. Hopefully Paul and Griffin will be closer to full strength today. If nothing else, it would just be nice to see what the team can do against the Spurs when they've got everyone healthy.
  • Get the Spurs perspective at Pounding the Rock.