Chris Paul finished with 36 points, Mo Williams with 33. The difference in point guard production was a sore reminder for the San Antonio Spurs just how badly they need for everyone to be healthy come the playoffs, and even then, their impressive and surprising season will come to an early end.
Tony Parker was watching from the sidelines. Gary Neal was the hero when the two teams met last, but Tony Parker was the starting point guard, and Neal didn’t have the burden of actually running the team, something he isn’t capable of doing. A rusty Manu Ginobili was better suited for playing the point guard in Parker’s absence.
The 26-13 Spurs were beaten at home, a rare occurrence until not too long ago, but it shouldn’t be that surprising. The Spurs had their run through February, and are back to where they should be, probably too high in the Western Conference (currently second). The Clippers aren’t a perfect team, but I’d back them to win a playoff series between the two.
Tony Parker creates plenty of headaches for any point guard, and with Paul not needing to carry too much defensive burden with Neal on the floor – Neal is a good shooter, but simply doesn’t warrant too much attention when penetrating, he was free to focus entirely on offense. The Clippers were enjoying a rare night from the three, finishing with 14-27. Paul and Foye both hit three times from beyond the arc, while Mo Williams went ballistic, finishing with 7 tres.
With that kind of shooting, the Clippers didn’t really need any interior help. DeAndre Jordan played only five minutes, the team soon realizing that going small during the game, with Reggie Evans grabbing 13 boards in is place, was better suited for this team. Tim Duncan had one of his better games at this stage of his career – scoring 17 points while having a horrendous night from the line (3-11), but it didn’t really help.
Blake Griffin? A quiet night. It’s not him that decided and dictates where and how far this team will go. It’s Chris Paul and the guards, with Foye and Williams doing a great job filling in for Chauncey Billups. Griffin finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. Very quiet for him.
With Ginobili coming back, Parker’s absence won’t be that critical, but even when no.9 does come back, I don’t see the Spurs beating teams in a seven game series. Not enough quality depth, not enough strength in the legs of the key players. Memphis ran them off the floor last season in the first round. The same might happen, in my opinion, against a healthy Minnesota, Denver or any fast paces team. Meeting Dallas in the first round might be the best scenario for the Spurs.