With Game 1 of the San Antonio Spurs Western Conference Semifinal matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers just a few hours away, I talked to Peter Kim, a good friend of Project Spurs who writes for The No Look Pass.
1. This isn't the Clippers of old. What makes this current squad such a dangerous team for the Spurs?
This current squad can be considered the 'curse breakers' considering that they were finally able to get a win in the AT&T Center. What that win showed us is that the Clippers took advantage of their hot shooting from 3-point range (52%). They are also deadly on the fast break even though those instances are often few and far between, and of course thanks to Chris Paul, he is able to methodically put his plan of attack in place in less than 24 seconds. Also the energy of the Clippers' 2nd unit (goon squad) has almost been unmatched in the playoffs so far.
2. Everyone will be watching the Parker-Paul point guard matchup. How do you see this matchup playing out?
It's definitely going to be a fun matchup. One simply can't overlook that Paul had his best game in the Clippers' only win over the Spurs when Tony Parker was out. Both players dictate the way the team plays and were somewhat opposites in terms of pace this season with the Spurs and their high powered, fast-paced offense and the Clippers' slow-it-down half-court offense. I think both teams will have difficulty trying to contain the opposing point guard.
3. The Clippers are banged up (Griffin and Paul) heading into tonight's contest. How will Del Negro deal with injuries to key players against a formidable Spurs team?
They will likely be given more rest and will be contingent on how they feel once they get into the game. Luckily, the trust in the bench has been shown and Del Negro is able to bring in Eric Bledsoe and Kenyon Martin into the game to keep from overworking Griffin and Paul.
4. The Spurs are well rested while the Clippers are just coming off a rough series against Memphis. Do you think the rest for the Spurs will present an issue for the Clippers or do you think rust set in for San Antonio?
The Spurs have mentioned that they've done their best to keep up with their conditioning despite the time off and they've proven that they have benefited from rest throughout the season. If there is rust for them, they're likely to shake it off early on. We saw the Clippers come out to a slow start in game 1 of the first round, seemingly unprepared for playoff basketball and the same can happen in round 2 against the experienced Spurs.
5. Is there any other matchup Spurs and Clippers fans should keep an eye on and why?
It's going to be interesting to see Tim Duncan play after being well-rested. The Griffin/Duncan head-to-head matchup didn't happen often in the regular season and we're not likely to see it in the playoffs so Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin and DeAndre Jordan will have their hands full trying to stop the Duncan face-up game and the almost unstoppable bank-shot.For the Clippers, Mo WIlliams will be a major factor against whoever is matched up against him. He went 7-9 from 3-point range in the Clippers' win over the Spurs and considering the Spurs' efficiency defending the pick and roll, the Clippers will need some difficult shots once plays break down, either at the end of the clock or going one on one.