Quick Note: As this recap is being written immediately after the game, there may be a tad bit of bias and emotion thrown in. For a more level-headed recap and analysis, check back later.
First off it should be acknowledged that the Clippers did a lot to lose this game all on their own. In a make or miss league, specifically a make or miss series as Justin Russo pointed out yesterday, it was always going to be the team that buoyed back to their regular season percentages from three that would likely win the game. The Spurs shot 11-23 from deep this game, while the Clippers bricked an incredible 1-14; the only thing the Clippers were able to shoot this game was themselves in the foot. It was amazing that despite a -30 point deficit from behind the arc, the Clippers still remained in this game all the way down to the wire.
The Clippers were able to stay in this game thanks in large part to two big factors: their defense and Blake Griffin. From the start of the game the Clippers came out swarming on defense, making great rotations and recoveries and staying active in the passing lanes. The Clippers built a big first quarter lead on the backs of their defense and Playoff Blake Griffin being unstoppable. For the game the Flyin Lion put up 30 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 assists. As the game wore on, it seemed that Blake was drained from having to carry the load for so long, and while Chris Paul, largely silent for the first 3 quarters, started going Point God in the 4th ending the game with 19 points and 10 assists, it just wasn't enough of a performance from him this game. He was fine, good even, but this game they needed great for more than one quarter. The Clippers had a chance to win with 7 seconds left, but DJ ended up offensively interfering with Griffin's shot. I have no idea why Blake didn't throw the lob to DJ on that play as Duncan had committed and Jordan was wide open.
Credit the Spurs for making great shots this game while also trying out a lot of different things on defense from going zone to having Green pick up Paul full court for most of the game. They made some ridiculous plays at the end of the game to help themselves win it, whether it was Diaw throwing daggers with his first 3 of the series or a shot clock beating basket that surprised even him, or a huge defensive block by Duncan.
Now for the ranting parts of being a fan in this recap:
HEY REFS I REALLY WISH WE COULD HAVE THOSE 4 POINTS YOU TOOK AWAY FROM US. The first offensive interference call on Barnes's put back was just wrong on replay and a bad decision to make that call. The second was a ridiculous call for Blake traveling when he clearly only took two steps. The ref just assumed he would crab dribble ala LeBron when Blake played it straight up. Speaking of the refs, the amount of late calls this game must've set a record. There were a countless number of questionable, borderline egregious, calls against the Clippers this game which has less to do with an NBA conspiracy and more to do with a long history of Bill Kennedy and Doc Rivers HATING each other, but hey let's just assign Kennedy to the most important game of the playoffs so far knowing this NBA. It's somewhat hard for the Clippers to win playing 5 on 8.
As a Clipper fan I get frustrated by other fan bases constantly calling the team floppers and whiners. I hope that any Spur fan willing to cast the first stone takes a real hard look at Manu Ginobli's performance this game before he does. Those were Oscar winning acting moments from Manu this game.
Lastly: Hey Doc, you may not want to have Jamal Crawford, who was a revolving door on defense against Tony Parker, defending Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs best offensive player, in crunch time. It didn't seem that Barnes was injured as he came in later in the game for defense, but even if he was you put him in to defend in crunch time. The allure of Jamal's offense may be enticing, but he was 4-15 tonight with some absolutely ridiculous and dreadful shots (though I did think his last 3 was in when he shot it). There's no reason Jamal should've been in instead of Barnes. Come on Doc.
Ultimately the Clippers lost a game they shouldn't have even been in, but had to win. On the bright side they've shown they can win once in San Antonio, I believe they can do it again. From the beginning I said Clippers in 7 and I'm sticking to it.