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NBA Playoffs Clippers-Spurs Preview Round 1 Game 6: Do or Die

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The Spurs put the Clippers on the brink of elimination in Game 5. Can the Clips win in enemy territory with their season on the line?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
2015 NBA Playoffs
First Round
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vs

spurs logo

56-26

55-27
Game 6 - Thursday, April 30th, 2015, 6:30 PM
AT&T Center
Prime Ticket, TNT, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Series Schedule
Spurs lead 3-2
Game 1 - Sun April 19, 7:30 p.m. in Los Angeles, Clippers 107-Spurs 92
Game 2 - Wed April 22, 7:30 p.m. in Los Angeles, Spurs 111-Clippers 107 (OT)
Game 3 - Fri April 24, 6:30 p.m. in San Antonio, Spurs 100-Clippers 73
Game 4 - Sun April 26, 12:30 p.m. in San Antonio, Clippers 114-Spurs 105
Game 5  Tue April 28, 7:30 p.m. in Los Angeles, Spurs 111-Clippers 107
Game 6  Thu April 30, 6:30 p.m, Prime Ticket, San Antonio, AT&T Center
Game 7* Sun May 2, Time TBD, Prime Ticket, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
* if necessary
Win-Loss Breakdown
19-11 East 23-7
37-15 West 32-20
30-11 Home 33-8
26-15 Road 22-19
19-22 .500+ 23-19
37-4 .500- 32-8
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Tony Parker
J.J. Redick SG Danny Green
Matt Barnes SF Kawhi Leonard
Blake Griffin PF Tim Duncan
DeAndre Jordan C Tiago Splitter
Key Reserves
Austin Rivers PG Patty Mills
Jamal Crawford SG Marco Belinelli
Hedo Turkoglu SF Manu Ginobili
Glen Davis PF Boris Diaw
Spencer Hawes C Aron Baynes
Advanced Stats 2014-2015 Regular Season
96.96 (11th of 30) Pace 95.93 (17th of 30)
109.8 (1st of 30) ORtg 106.2 (7th of 30)
103.0 (15th of 30) DRtg 99.6 (3rd of 30)
Injuries/Other
Matt Barnes (rotator cuff) probable
Tiago Splitter (calf) probable

The Back Story (The teams split the regular season series 2-2):

Date Venue Final

11/10/14 Los Angeles Spurs 89, Clippers 85 Recap Box
12/22/14 San Antonio Spurs 125, Clippers 119 Recap Box
01/21/15 San Antonio Clippers 105, Spurs 85 Recap Box
02/19/15 Los Angeles Clippers 119, Spurs 115 Recap Box

The Big Picture: Oh me, oh my. Losing Game 5 at home in a tied series, thus being forced to beat the defending champs in their house in order to stay alive--file that one under "tough loss." But the good news is, THERE'S STILL A CHANCE.  If the Clippers can pull off a win on Thursday, they can bring this baby home for Game 7 and WIN IT ALL! --sorry, what was that? You mean this isn't the NBA Finals? Huh. Could've fooled me.

In addition to some tough (read: shitty) officiating in Game 5, the Clippers shot a mind-boggling 1-14 from three and missed 16 free throws. You have to think that if this Clipper team is worth their salt, that won't happen again in Game 6. Maybe this is a Game 3 to Game 4 situation again, where they bounce back from a bad performance and win convincingly. The good news is, Doc Rivers teams have won on the road in every playoff series he's coached. The bad news is, one of his teams hasn't won twice on the road in the same series since 2011. It'll be a tough climb for the Clippers, but there's gold in them thar hills.

The Antagonist: Death, taxes, and Tim friggin' Duncan. The now 39-year old has been solid as a rock against the much younger and more athletic Clips, and there are rumors floating around that he actually smiled during Game 5. On top of all that, you could argue that he's not even the most important player for the Spurs in this series. He and Kawhi Leonard are shooting a combined 55% from the field in the playoffs.

San Antonio has shown some vulnerability against the Clippers, but they seem to have a switch they can just turn on when they need to buckle down and win a possession or two. It seems like the Clippers best strategy in Game 6 is just to run the old guys ragged, because they can't seem to keep up when the Clippers are clicking in the open court.

The Subplots

  • Game 6's. In the Clippers' long and storied playoff history, they've played five Game 6's and won only one. That win came in 2006 in the second round at home against the Phoenix Suns, but the series was lost in Game 7.
  • The shooting conundrum. As contributor Justin Russo predicted in this piece about the curious amount of missed open shots in the series, the team to get over the hump first and hit their open shots would likely win. The Spurs hit 15 of 35 open looks in Game 5, while the Clippers went 9-30.
  • Jamal. Our little offensive juggernaut off the bench has averaged 11.2 points per this series, but he's only shooting 17% from three. Wrong time to cool off, old chap. I think we need a patented Crawford four-point play, and STAT!
  • Keep hacking away, jerks. DeAndre Jordan finished 7-16 from the line Tuesday night, and is making only 36% of his free throws in the playoffs. With numbers like that, don't expect Gregg Popovich to change his Hack-A strategy any time soon.
  • Hedon't. Clearly, Hedo Turkolgu is not a big part of the playoff rotation, but he's appeared in 4 of the 5 games and has only dropped two points. Call me crazy, but before the playoffs started, I had fantasies about Hedo checking into the game for only a couple minutes, and raining 3-balls of terror down on the unassuming Spurs. There's still a chance.
  • Connections. After five games in a row against these guys, if you don't know the connections, I have to assume you don't care. At this point, the connections are best summarized as, "the Clippers played the Spurs in the first round of the 2015 playoffs, and all hell broke loose."
  • Get the Spurs side of things at Pounding the Rock.