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Game 3 Preview: Clippers vs. Spurs

Basketball Insiders previews Game 3 of the Clippers-Spurs series.

Jabari Davis profile picture
Updated 12 months ago on
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#3 – Los Angeles Clippers

For as great as that Game 1 spanking must have felt for the Los Angeles Clippers (and their fans), they have to feel as though they missed out on a golden opportunity to send an already shorthanded San Antonio Spurs team back to AT&T Center with the serious pressure of an 0-2 deficit. Nearly 94 percent of teams that take a 2-0 lead have gone on to win the series so that would’ve been huge for the Clippers, but they can no longer dream about such odds as they now find themselves in danger of being behind the eight ball and facing elimination if they are unable to find a way to return the favor and steal one on the road.

To their credit, the Clippers did have one of the better road records (26-15) on the year, and were able to split with the Spurs in San Antonio during the regular season. The trouble is, the Spurs were a robust 33-8 at home and happen to be precisely the team you simply don’t want to see stealing the momentum in a series.

Chris Paul (22 points, seven assists, eight rebounds), Blake Griffin (29 points, 11 assists, 12 rebounds) and DeAndre Jordan (20 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks) were each clearly phenomenal once again, but it simply wasn’t enough as outside of J.J. Redick’s 16 points, the rest of the team wasn’t able to provide all that much in terms of production. Matt Barnes chipped in with 10 rebounds and Jamal Crawford added 11 points off the bench, but someone (other than Crawford) on that bench is going to have to find a way to contribute more frequently if the Clippers are going to be able to steal home court advantage back.

#6 – San Antonio Spurs

We all knew the Spurs would find a way to respond after Game. But one thing we did not anticipate was Patty Mills having to step off the bench in relief of a clearly banged-up Tony Parker to act as the third member of San Antonio’s “Big 3” for the night. His 18 points and timely plays were just enough alongside yet another stellar playoff performance from Tim “Father Time” Duncan (28 points, 11 rebounds) and the type of all-around game we’ve come to expect from Kawhi Leonard (23 points, nine rebounds).

The Clippers still scored 107 points in the game, but the main differences were the Spurs’ ability to make life more difficult from beyond the arc for the Clippers and knock down more of the shots they’ve become accustomed to hitting. Even though the Clippers still managed to make nine threes (just 9-29) on the night, the Spurs did a much better job of running them off the line and applying enough pressure when they needed it most.

The question for San Antonio remains the health and availability of Parker as they head back home. Mills has proven he can play well for these Spurs in the postseason whether as a reserve or in a larger role, but if Parker’s injury simply won’t permit him to play it would also potentially mean that suddenly Cory Joseph could play a much larger role in this series than anticipated. Manu Ginobili has always been a player Coach Gregg Popovich could rely upon for extended playmaking duties, but you probably don’t want to risk over-extending his 37-year-old body by asking him to shoulder too much of the load either.

Who Wins Game 3?

The Clippers’ best chance at stealing momentum back is probably going to be in Game 3 with a questionable Parker, and Duncan coming off a 44-minute performance. Trouble is, whether shorthanded or not, games like these are precisely the ones where the Spurs have traditionally found a way to simply out-execute teams until their shooters and role players start knocking down daggers as well. The Spurs likely get the win and really put the Clippers in an essential must-win scenario in Game 4.

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Jabari Davis is a senior NBA Writer and Columnist for Basketball Insiders, covering the Pacific Division and NBA Social Media activity.

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