Clippers-Spurs Game 2 Preview: Can L.A. Stay Aggressive?


Apr 19, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; A view of the t-shirts on the seat before the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers stormed into their postseason push with a 107-92 win over the San Antonio Spurs in game one, primarily because of their aggressive mindset. It was incredibly impressive, but do they have a chance to maintain their performance into game two at Staples Center tonight?

More from Clipperholics

After Blake Griffin’s outrageous trilogy of dunks over Aron Baynes and DeAndre Jordan’s 4 first half blocks, the crowd in L.A. are going to keep up their emphatic cheers to say the least. It was a dominant win that no one would have expected. Not even the world’s most psyched up Clippers’ fan (that means you, Steve Ballmer) would have predicted such a one sided win.

The 58 combined points of Griffin and Chris Paul were certainly the biggest nail in the Spurs’ coffin Sunday night, and San Antonio’s playoff veterans weren’t able to overcome the pace, aggression and athleticism that the Clippers launched at them with full force.

Even though Paul maintained his poise all night long, utilized his deadly mid-range jumper (he’s making a career best 51.9 percent of his shots from 10-16 feet out this year) and ran the pick-and-roll to great effect with Griffin, it was his high-flying partner that headlined the night.

After the game, Griffin had the following to say about his aggressive mindset for this series (via Yahoo! Sports):

"“I just want to be aggressive. I don’t want to settle for anything, because now is not the time to have the mindset of self preservation.”"

When you’re taking on the defending champions, that’s the perfect mindset to have; just go hard, or go home.

Add into the equation that none of the Spurs’ frontcourt were strong enough protecting the rim and couldn’t handle his explosiveness, and it’s not too surprising that Griffin dropped 26 points, to go along with his 12 rebounds and 6 assists.

Jamal Crawford may not have been putting Baynes on a poster, but he came out with the same mindset off the bench, too. He’s only been back for four games since a one month absence due to calf injury, but in game one he made 7-0f-10 shots for 17 points, in only 22 minutes of action.

With his lightning quick handles and pull-up jumpers, he’ll need to keep his confidence as high as it is right now in order to make up for the weakness of the Clippers’ second unit (who combined for a mere 5 points in game one and ranked 22nd in bench scoring this year, per HoopsStats).

Apr 19, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Boris Diaw (33), guard Tony Parker (9), guard Manu Ginobili (20), guard Tony Parker (9) and forward Tim Duncan (21) during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

As strong as the Clippers performance was, there were some elements of game one that are unlikely to repeat themselves tonight.

First and foremost, the Spurs’ appalling field goal percentage.

San Antonio shot just 36.6 percent from the floor on Sunday night, and made only 10-of-33 attempts from behind the arc. If that wasn’t enough, they even struggled from the line, barely making half of their free throws at 53.8 percent. No matter how good the defense of the Clippers was, in particular Paul’s tight covering of Tony Parker, Jordan’s rim protection and Matt Barnes’ all around hustle, this is obviously uncharacteristic of the Spurs.

You won’t see Danny Green shoot 1-0f-7 from three-point range every night, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Pop yells at his Big 3 enough to make Tim Duncan and Parker combine for more than 21 points on 8-0f-21 shooting. In fact, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw and Green collectively made a measly 3 out of 18 three-pointers.

If you shoot that poorly, you’re not going to win many playoff games. Especially when you’re facing one of the NBA’s best starting fives (no matter how little depth they have when you look past Crawford).

Apr 19, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) during the first quarter in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

This is the Spurs, though. If there’s one team who can bounce back and rediscover their confidence in a day or two, it’s Gregg Popovich’s Spurs.

At Monday’s practice, Doc Rivers even remarked that they were a little fortunate with San Antonio’s shooting performance in game one (via

"“I think we can play better. I think we’re gonna have to be if you want me to be honest. We can’t count on them missing wide open 3s.”"

It’s safe to say that the Spurs should be more efficient tonight, and at least approach a shooting rate of around 45 percent, no matter how tough Jordan is able to remain under the basket. If they do that, this is already a far closer game than the series opener. Furthermore, if Kawhi Leonard can help Tony Parker cover Chris Paul more effectively, then the Spurs have a far better opportunity to bounce back.

However, shooting efficiency aside, don’t forget what the Clippers proved in game one. Their bench is still a major weakness, but if their starting five continues to play big minutes tonight in order to try and secure an early 2-0 lead, they make the most of a limited Tiago Splitter, and keep the aggressive attitude that was so key to winning game one, then L.A. might just have a reasonable chance at securing another win tonight.

It’s going to be more more difficult than Sunday and there’s no question about it, but do not count them out.

And if you want a full breakdown of performances from game one and how different players can impact this series, read here.

Next: Clippers-Spurs Game 2: The 5 Key Matchups