The Clippers didn’t make it easy in Game 4, with Chris Paul having his best game of the series. But it wasn’t enough. Tim Duncan missed the conference finals too much apparently, and the Spurs just have too much depth and basketball to get beaten by a one dimensional team like the Clippers. Nearly a month of playoff time, and the Spurs are still undefeated.
There was no huge comeback this time – Just a small one. The tight schedule and playing back to back games didn’t hurt the older team and not Tim Duncan, who’s always prone to having a bad day on short rests. But he’s a fitter man than he’s been these past couple of seasons. Well rested during the regular season despite the shortage, Duncan took Blake Griffin to school once again.
Everything that Griffin needs to add, which revolves around the words ‘basketball iq’ and ‘off the ball motion’, among other stuff, Tim Duncan showed him night after night in the Semi Final sweep. Duncan can’t contain Griffin’s explosiveness, but one of the keys to the Spurs success is that no one does anything on his own.
Duncan led the scoring with 21 points and 9 rebounds, exactly his averages in the series. Five more Spurs players finished in double figures, including Tony Parker with 17 and some big baskets in the final minutes of the game, as the Spurs came back to take over the contest. Chris Paul had a chance to fix things but turned the ball over after an ill-advised gung ho penetration.
The Clippers did outscore the Spurs in the paint but once again, couldn’t keep up defensively or create good and easy shots in crunch time. Their basketball becomes too transparent and easy to read, while the lack of commitment and coverage when things aren’t going well translated into open shots for the Spurs, who were 40% from beyond the arc.
The Clippers left the Staples Center for the final time this season with the usual melancholy feeling every team knocked out of the postseason, let alone get swept aside, carries with it into the summer. The pondering and doubts regarding the future – Not just if this team is good enough to repeat and build on this year’s success; Wondering if Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will be here for the long run. Good players tend to bolt for greener pastures when the Clippers are involved.
The Spurs become the fourth team to sweep through the first two rounds since we’ve had the first round series turned into a 7-game one. Bad news – The previous three teams to win their first 8 games in the playoffs (all Eastern conference) lost in the conference finals. Danger, Will Robinson.
The Spurs aren’t Miami – They don’t play Ginobili – Parker – Duncan much together. Around 13-15 minutes a game. Ginobili has been rather quiet through the series, letting others cause more damage. Maybe he’s saving it for the Thunder/Lakers who’ll be next, or maybe he’s just in a funk. Luckily, there’s enough firepower, each time from someone else, to make up for his less impressive efforts.
And the test will come soon for the support guys. Parker and Duncan will find it much harder against whoever comes up next. Their ability to pass instead of force shots, and the willingness of Leonard, Neal, Green and Splitter to step up and take the reigns will determine how far the Spurs go this postseason, not Duncan’s double doubles.