The best series in these playoffs is coming to an end, as the Los Angeles Clippers host the San Antonio Spurs for a game 7 in their first round encounter, with the series tied at 3-3, and anything is possible.
Both teams have won on the road in this series: The Spurs in game 2 and 5, the Clippers in game 4 and 6. The Clippers aren’t exactly the fierce home advantage type anyway, and will have to rely on regrouping one more time and getting the most of what is a six-man rotation most of the time against the most battle tested team in the league, that might getting to the end of the road as far as this group is concerned.
This series might be the first one in a very long time in which Gregg Popovich is criticized for his rotations and decisions. Leaving Tiago Splitter too much on the court and doing the same with Tony Parker, who can’t get by players most of the time, which is often the foundation for the entire swing and motion offense the Spurs utilize, creating havoc and openings for players.
The Clippers are defending the 3-point well, attacking the perimeter in an aggressive manner, while DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin have been fantastic in the paint. Popovich often ruins the flow of the game by focusing on the Hack-a-Jordan tactic, although it’s hard to say it hasn’t cost the Clippers a lot of points. The game needs to go more through Kawhi Leonard, and it’s hard to fathom that Tim Duncan played just 28 minutes in a potential series winner.
The last time the Spurs played a game 7 on the road? That was the 2013 NBA Finals. They came into Miami with a 3-2 lead, and were seconds away from finishing the job and winning a fifth NBA title. But then Ray Allen happened in game 6. And then LeBron James happened two days later. In short, the last time they played a game 7 on the road, they lost.
The Clippers won a game 7 at home last season against the Warriors in the first round. These players have been through this and although Rivers has been making awful mistakes through this series, he doesn’t have a lot of options to sift through anymore, which might be a good thing considering how well the starters have been playing. The Clippers have what it takes to dethrone the defending NBA champions, but it’ll take another special performance from Griffin, Paul and probably two more players at least to make it happen.