Clippers-Spurs Game 1 Preview: Improbable, not Impossible


For the first time in NBA history, a no.3 seed will be fighting an uphill battle against a no.6 seed as the Clippers prepare to kick off the 2015 NBA Playoffs in an opening round series against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.

Many analysts believe the Spurs will escape from this series despite not having homecourt; fans fall into the same river of belief.

And justly so — the Spurs aren’t equal to their seed placement. In comparison to the rest of the NBA, the Spurs have been a top-4 seed in the league and a top-2 seed in the Western Conference behind the Golden State Warriors, thanks in part to injury improvement and the “re-emergence” of Kawhi Leonard.

So who better to prove your legitimacy as a NBA Finals contender than by defeating “that”?

Besides a team that features LeBron James, no team is fightin harder against reputation coming into this playoffs.

Blake Griffin is soft.

Chris Paul is a loser.

DeAndre Jordan isn’t fit to help push a team through the playoffs.

Doc Rivers is overrated since winning a championship in Boston.

I’ve heard it all. You’ve heard it all. And surely, the four persons mentioned above heard it all. Now is the step to correct those negative perceptions by defeating one of the best teams in the league, starting with Game 1.

Three Things to Watch:

Bench Play: No matter how much you enjoy what the Clippers starting five + Jamal Crawford can do, this team’s overall ceiling will be based on how the bench unit plays, even if their minutes will be cut in the playoffs. Because Rivers has spoken publicly on the rotation, some questions arise about who plays:

Regardless of who gets the go ahead, they have to play well; well enough as to where Rivers won’t be forced to play the starters heavy minutes. If not, it could be a long night — and series — for the Clippers.

Tiago Splitter‘s Health: Earlier this week, it was reported Spurs center in Splitter was questionable coming into the matchup, but per Popovich, the big man is available to the team. Of course, available doesn’t necessarily equate to “ready enough to defend a spry Blake Griffin” though Pop opted against revealing HOW healthy Splitter is.

Hack-a-Jordan: As mentioned here, we could be seeing a ton of intentional fouls on DeAndre Jordan at Gregg Popovich’s instruction. The question isn’t whether it’ll happen — that’s pretty much clear unless Pop believes he can Jedi mind-trick Rivers into keeping Jordan off the floor because of the intentional hacking. The question is when it’ll happen — the conventional method says to do it when behind add possessions to the game, but if the Spurs have the lead and the Clippers are fighting back, Pop could do so then to halt the league’s best offense. Regardless, it’s going to happen, so sit back, grab some popcorn and prepare for it.

Matchup of the Night

With Game 1 more of a feel-out to see what Rivers throws at Pop and vice-versa, the easiest matchup to keep an eye on tonight that could decide the game outside of the marquee ones (Parker/Paul, etc.) is DeAndre Jordan against whomever is at center. If Splitter starts, Jordan will be matched up with Duncan, and while Duncan is the far superior player in terms of skill, Jordan possesses the athleticism and length to get at Duncan on both ends of the floor, especially on the glass and in pick-and-roll situations.

If Splitter doesn’t start and Aaron Baynes gets the nod, Jordan will be matched up with a less skilled, less athletic opposition, one he can dominate on the glass and on the fast break with his speed.


Despite both teams coming into the postseason with momentum, my gut tells me the home team in Los Angeles escapes with a close victory over the Spurs, 112-105.