To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed with this matchup, not because it won’t be close and exciting but because I was hoping the Grizzlies would advance and this would be a grittier more aggressive series. Instead it will probably be a high scoring shootout. Either way, this should be an exciting series.
In game 1, both teams put up 29 after the first quarter. Proving my theory of a shootout. Then in the second quarter we saw the difference between the Clippers and the Spurs. The ability to lock in defensively. The Spurs held the Clippers to 20 points, and the Spurs put up 28 points giving them a 8 point lead into halftime. I mean both teams shot above 44% from the field but the Spurs held L.A to 92 points. This game was a strange one, the main contributor from each team scored in single digits. Tony Parker and Chris Paul scored a combined 13 points for 4-22 shooting. With both of them being non factors in getting the ball in the hoop it let us compare the supporting cast of the two teams. They are both very deep. Both teams have a 10+ player rotation. It makes this series all the more unpredictable because we really don’t know who will step up. In Game 1, Eric Bledsoe broke out for 23 points and for the Spurs, Danny Green had 15. They’re both exceptionally deep teams and they may cancel each other out offensively. That’s why the Spurs veteran leadership and defensive experience will come into play, to see if they can lock in and change this series from a shootout to a good playoff series. What I did notice in this series is Blake Griffin isn’t ready for intense playoff games yet. He isn’t playing like an all-star. He is playing like a solid role player, he is clearly scared of the spotlight and his game isn’t yet developed for this type of series. He put up 15 points, 4 assists and 9 rebounds. Those aren’t all-star numbers, rookie of the year numbers, or super star numbers. His offensive game really revolves around athleticism and consists mainly of dunks, spin off alley-oops and the occasional offensive rebound. I’ve never been a fan of Blake Griffin, I’ve always remembered what Charles Barkley said last year. Something like, I can’t wait until he becomes a basketball player instead of an exceptional athlete.I think this series will really show his offensive limitations. Especially being guarded by the bigger Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter. For the Clippers, they desperately need to rebound the ball. They allowed 47 rebounds to the Spurs as supposed to their 34 rebounds. Of the Spurs 47 rebounds, 11 were offensive boards. Additionally, of the Spurs 108 points, 42 were in the paint. I think the interior defense of Griffin and Jordan have to step up. They can’t just catch lobs and expect to win a championship, they need to play defense instead of relying on the smaller Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans.
For the future, I think both point guards will definitely pick up their games. I look for a big game 2 from both of those guys. I expect both benches to continue to produce. For the Clippers, they desperately need Blake Griffin to step it up on both sides of the floor. He needs to be a leader and a star. The Spurs need to continue to share the ball like they did in game 1, and continue to lock in defensively like they did after the 1st quarter. I think the interior defense of the Spurs need to stay sharp. Even though they’re not as athletic they need to keep Jordan and Griffin contained. In game 1, they held the two to a combined 22 points. If they can continue to hold down the paint it puts a lot of pressure on the perimeter players on the Clippers who are much smaller then the perimeter defenders of the Spurs and could find it hard to score. I’ll give this series to the Spurs in 5.