NBA Playoff Preview – Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs

It’s been what seems like ages, since the San Antonio Spurs last played a basketball game – just what their aging team and aching bodies needed.  The Los Angeles Clippers, on the other hand, just wrapped up a seven game, tightly contested series, that saw their two superstars incur or aggravate injuries.  Chris Paul and his strained groin, Blake Griffin and his bum knee; both claim they will be ready to go for their second round matchup against Duncan, Ginobli, Parker and the savvy Spurs.

This matchup pits the Clippers who reached the playoffs for the first time in 6 years, vs. the Spurs who seem to be in championship contention just about every season.  Will the young, dynamic style of the Clippers be able to overcome the seasoned, consistent play of the Spurs?

Offensive Comparison

TEAM

PTS

FG%

3P%

FT%

San Antonio

103.7

47.8%

39.3%

74.8%

LA Clippers

97.5

45.5%

35.7%

68.0%

The San Antonio Spurs have a big advantage whenever they touch the ball. They shoot extremely well as a team, particularly from three point distance; but make no mistake, this team likes to work it inside and never forces shots. The Clippers, on the other hand, average about six points per game fewer than the Spurs, and are considerable less accurate from the field than their opponents.  Blake Griffin is one of the best finishers in this league, but he still has a lot of trouble creating his own shot.  Because of this, the Clippers offensive success will truly be dictated by Chris Paul.

[ad name=”GAS-Blog-Banner”]

Some may say that the long layoff between series could hurt the Spurs, as they haven’t seen live game action in over a week.  If this were a younger, less experienced team, we might agree.  This isn’t San Antonio’s first rodeo, nor is it the first time that they have experienced a long layover after sweeping a series.  This team of vets knows how to stay sharp during the layoff, and Greg Popovich is one of the best coaches in the NBA. The Spurs will be ready offensively.

Defensive Comparison

TEAM

PTS

FG%

3P%

Steals

San Antonio

96.5

45.2%

35.3%

7.4

LA Clippers

95

44.7%

36.5%

8.4

On the defensive side of the ball, the Clippers actually have a slight advantage.  They allow fewer points than the Spurs and they held their opponents to slightly worse shooting percentages than did the Spurs.  LA is a little more active on defense as well, average one extra steal a game. It will be really important for both teams to stay out of foul trouble, particularly down low where either Duncan or Griffin will run wild without the other there defending. If the Clippers want to have any chance at an upset, they must defend the perimeter well and make entry passes to the post as difficult as possible.  The Spurs  must control the tempo and keep LA in a half-court offense, where the Clippers tend to struggle.

Head to Head Matchups

TEAM

PTS

FG%

3P%

FT%

San Antonio

108.7

49.2%

44.2%

67.6%

LA Clippers

103.3

43.7%

39.7%

81.3%

Both teams played considerably better offensively when they faced each other this year, averaging about five points per game better.  The Spurs shot about 2% better overall, including 5% better from three point land.  The Clippers actually shot a worse overall FG% but made up the difference with steals and second chance points.  If this series is anything like their regular season meetings, we should be in for some high scoring affairs.  The key factor will be how well each team responds to the rest (or lack of it) early on in the series.

About Aaron Garcia

Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.