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NBA Playoffs Clippers-Spurs Round 1 Game 2 - Keys

The Clippers played great on Sunday in winning Game 1 of their first round series with the Spurs. What are some of the keys to look for in Game 2?

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Wood has an excellent preview posted for Game 2 so be sure to check that out. Here are the keys I'll be looking for.

When does DeAndre get his rest? In Game 1, you might have thought that Doc Rivers had been reading Clips Nation. In the first quarter, he took DeAndre Jordan out of the game just before the Clippers entered the bonus, though in that case it had mostly to do with DeAndre picking up his second foul. In the third quarter he once again sat DJ directly after the Spurs had committed their fourth team foul, i.e. just as Bang-the-DJ could have become a factor -- the very rest pattern that I had recommended prior to the series. The game was out of hand by the time the Clippers reached the bonus in the fourth. That left the second quarter as the only time it was an option, and Gregg Popovich employed it for the last minute and a half. It didn't work -- the Clippers had a six point lead when Pop started fouling, the same lead they took into halftime. It's pretty much always a bad strategy with so much time left in the game in my opinion, but what was particularly strange about it this time was that Chris Paul was sitting on the bench with three fouls. Pop has been quoted as saying "It's easier to foul Jordan that to chase Chris Paul around." Apparently, it's also easier to foul than to try to stop Austin Rivers. Doc Rivers got Glen "Big Baby" Davis up off the bench after the first hack, but there was no stoppage (other than with DJ at the line) until 20 seconds left in the half. So Doc was not able to substitute and avoid the additional fouls. As it happens, the Clippers had a foul to give and could have committed a foul to get Jordan out of the game. But pretty much everything has a cost -- that foul to give can be useful on the final possession, burning a time out to make a sub costs you a time out later in the game, etc. -- and Doc choose not to incur that cost. We'll see how he approaches this question in Game 2, but getting DJ his rest at the end of quarters seems like a no-brainer.

Will Griffin remain in attack mode? As Thomas points out, most of Blake Griffin's shots in Game 1 were deep into the paint. His jumper is an improving weapon, but midrange jumpers are an inefficient shot for pretty much anyone not named Chris Paul. Griffin increased his percentage of midrange jumpers -- both in terms of how many he made and in terms of how many he took -- during the regular season, but he went back to being primarily a post scorer in Game 1. That's great news for the Clippers and hopefully it's a postseason trend, not just a one game anomaly.

Can the Spurs make threes? When the Spurs hit four out of five threes early in the fourth quarter, it's no surprise that they briefly got within single digits of the lead. But they were 10-33 on the game, which means they were 6-28 aside from that fourth quarter flurry -- and a lot of those were open looks. Maybe the Clippers don't mind leaving Boris Diaw open (32% on the season, 0-5 in Game 1) but Danny Green (42%) also had plenty of open looks -- he's not likely to go 1-7 again. The Clippers D was great, but it's not easy to take away everything from a team as good as the Spurs. Against the Clippers' rotations, quick ball reversal is going to get some open three point looks. If the Spurs heat up on those, it's going to be a very different game.

Will we ever see a five man second unit for the Clippers again? Spencer Hawes played three minutes in Game 1. Those three minutes came at the end of the first quarter and start of the second. Hawes had a plus/minus of -5 in that time, and it seemed worse than that. The Clippers starters are so good -- and the bench has been so bad -- that the simply must shrink. In the second half Rivers stuck with an 8-man rotation, and not surprisingly there weren't any of those pesky 10-0 Spurs runs. The starters might wear down over the course of multiple playoff series, but playing just their second game in a week, they should be plenty rested for big minutes tonight.

Will Doc Rivers continue to double team Leonard? Kawhi Leonard is the only Spurs starter who has an advantage in his individual matchup against his Clippers' counterpart, and as such he has a huge responsibility for the Spurs. In Game 1, plan A for the Clippers was to keep Matt Barnes on the floor whenever Leonard was in, and Barnes did a serviceable job on Leonard. Plan B, whenever someone other than Barnes was on Leonard (which happened on cross matches or when Barnes was out with foul trouble) was to immediate double team Leonard and force him to give up the ball. It might have taken the Spurs a bit by surprise in Game 1; they'll be ready for it in Game 2. Will Doc have an adjustment for the adjustment? It matters because Jamal Crawford was great in Game 1, and if the Clippers want his offense on the floor, he may have to spend some time defending Leonard, which is a disaster one-on-one.