Nothing Old About the 2012 Tony Parker & San Antonio Spurs

Tony Parker joined the big three’s 30 something club by leading the San Antonio Spurs to a 105-88 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, so far cruising in their Western Conference Semi Final series to a 2-0 lead.

Maybe the Los Angeles Clipper defense wasn’t that good against the Grizzlies. Maybe it was just awful offense from the Griz. Maybe their pretty simple way of beating you – strong defense, push the ball inside or hit an open shot from the outside just wasn’t enough to expose the Clippers for what they are – A bad defensive team who lay all their hopes on Chris Paul being hard to stop.

That’s how it has looked against the Spurs in the first two games. Paul wasn’t as bad as he was in Game 1, but once again, his output of 10 points and 5 assists while turning the ball over 8 times is simply not what the doctor wrote in his prescription for a win over the Spurs. Even an impressive 9-13 from beyond the arc for the Clippers didn’t really help them get anywhere near the number one team in the Western Conference.

Parker is finally an old man. Any athlete entering his fourth decade of living is considered an old man. But there’s nothing  old about the 2012 version Tony Parker & San Antonio Spurs. Not when Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili don’t have to be the main source of points every night, with Daniel Green scoring 13 points and Boris Diaw on a perfect shooting night adds 16 to Parker’s 22 and Duncan’s 18.

Caron Butler had the impressive move of the night with a nice dunk over Tim Duncan, but that was about it for the Clippers. Blake Griffin scored 20 points, and the Clippers shot just below 50%. But they can’t keep hold of the ball (18 turnovers) and they can’t guard. No one’s attacking the pick n’ rolls, and the rim and paint seems so exposed all game long; all series long.

The Spurs scored 50 points from inside the paint, compared to the Clippers 18.  All the aspects that playoff basketball relies upon – Defense, rebounding and trimming the turnovers numbers to a minimum are all going San Antonio’s way. The creative way of working on offense is just too much for a team that knows it’s over matched, and doesn’t look like it’s trying to compensate with something out of the ordinary. The Clippers just do what they’re expected to. It’s not nearly enough.

The Spurs have now won 16 consecutive games, but life in Los Angeles won’t be the same. They’ll probably be looking at a slower pace, if the Clippers actually manage to enforce one. Again, it all revolves around Chris Paul managing to dominate, which he hasn’t so far. Maybe playing with two point guard, adding Mo Williams while benching Randy Foye, who can’t do much but shoot open three pointers, will make things a little easier for the Clips, challenging the Spurs a bit more than they have so far.

Does anyone see the Clippers turn things around? Game 3 always hold a special importance, especially when you’re looking through the glasses of a team that’s 0-2 down. It’s hard to think of the whole series, but you start taking it one game at a time. The Clippers do have a disadvantage in the X and O’s department. That’s not a knock on Del Negro. Pop is a better coach, with more playmakers on the floor. There’s no true reliance on one player calling all the players.

Chris Paul will have a good game at some point, but even that won’t be enough. He needs help with making plays and making it harder for the Spurs to focus just on him. Chauncey Billups would have helped, but he’s out. The Clippers have to start playing like they actually want to win a game here, because so far, just by looking at their flat efforts on D, they can’t wait to start their summer vacation.

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