NBA Playoffs, Clippers-Spurs Game 2: The 5 Key Matchups

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Jamal Crawford vs the Spurs’ perimeter

Jan 26, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) stands on the court during the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. The Clippers won 102-98. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Essentially, Jamal Crawford against anyone he can crossover is a crucial matchup. Because now that he’s back from injury (after missing a month due to a calf injury) he’s needed more than ever to bail out the rest of the Clippers’ weak second unit.

His knack of breaking ankles and leaving defenders clueless is starting to return to normal, and with the great Kawhi Leonard even struggling to keep up with him at times in game one, it’s clear that Crawford is getting back into his rhythm.

When you look past the transition threes and pull-up jumpers that Crawford made on his way to 17 points Sunday, the rest of the Clippers’ bench combined for a rather disheartening 5 points. Of course, with Blake, Paul and Jordan dazzling, Doc Rivers didn’t see the need to use his second unit any more than he had to (especially when the Spurs started coming back in the second quarter). However, that only makes the need for Crawford’s offensive energy even more important.

If you want to read about Crawford’s value in more detail, click here, but it’s needless to say that no matter how well the Clippers’ starting five perform, he is essential in providing a spark off the bench that no one else can.

In order for the Clippers to maintain the momentum they created in game one, they need to make the most of any specific matchups that favor them. In particular, the explosion of Griffin that left the Spurs’ big men behind, the effectiveness of Paul and Griffin’s pick-and-roll, the presence of Jordan when he remains in the paint, and the quick-fire scoring of Crawford.

As they return to Staples Center tonight, L.A. can only maintain their momentum if they attack the Spurs with the same fearless aggression that they did so well on Sunday. If they are able to do that, we can enjoy the best basketball that the 2015 NBA playoffs have had to offer so far.

Next: Film Room: Can DeAndre Jordan Do 'It' Again In Game 2?