Sweeping the Jazz is one thing, but playing the Clippers who have big guys that are more athletic and a point guard who is arguably the best in the league is a different story altogether. The combination of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan had the Los Angeles Clippers dubbed “LOB CITY”. The Spurs with their own combination of fundamentals, experience and execution had them dubbed “unbeatable” by many in the national media. It was simply a matter of Skills over Hops in the Spurs 4-game sweep of the Clippers.
Tim Duncan - 21 pts / 9.2 rbs
Step through, upfake, reverse pivot, turnaround jumper and last but not least the bank shot. Tim Duncan told Blake Griffin to take a seat, because class was in session. Duncan did good work on the boards and made sure to take away the easy buckets that Griffin and Jordan get off of Cp3′s penetration. But offensively was where Duncan did most of his damage. All the athleticism of Griffin and Jordan had no chance to match the Fundamentals and skill of the greatest power forward ever.
Kawhi Leonard 10 pts 6.6 rbs 2 stls
Leonard shined in this series more so than the last. Given the assignment to guard an ailing Caron Butler worked to his advantage. He did a decent job there, but defending Chris Paul was where Leonard showed promise of being an outstanding defensive player. Cp3 and all his dribbles couldn’t shake the 6-7 Leonard. In addition to his defense his shooting from 3-pt range continues to be vital to the Spurs success.
Boris Diaw 7.5 pts 6.2 rbs
In the very first game of the series, Diaw outmuscled the big men of the Clippers to a game high 12 rbs. For the rest of the series Diaw played smart and grounded “Air Griffin”.
Tony Parker 17.3 pts 7.8 ast
Playing against Chris Paul has always inspired Parker to raise his game. In his second series against Chris Paul, Parker went after him from the tip and either outscored or handed out more assists than Paul. In game 1 he struggled scoring but still handed out 11 ast. In the pivotal game 3 with it being nip tuck in the first 2 quarters(Spurs down by 24) Parker helped the Spurs win with a 23 pt/10 ast effort .
Danny Green 12.2pts 4rbs
Being 1 of 3 players that had the assignment of guarding the elusive Chris Paul, Green along with Leonard and Parker, shut down the penetration of Paul and contested every shot. Like Leonard, Green lit it up from 3-pt range shooting over 40%.
Manu Ginobili 14.2 pts 4.5 ast
After going through a slump in the first round, Ginobili appeared to be closer to his normal self. With a 22 pt outburst in the first game Ginobili was able to get back on track offensively leading to him scoring in double figures in all 4 games. Not to be ignored was his playmaking (4.5 ast). With the Clippers quick guards hounding backup point guard Gary Neal at times, Ginobili quarterbacked the Spurs 2nd unit.
Tiago Splitter 7.2 pts 84% fg
After having solid outings in games 3 and 4 of the first round, Splitter took on a new challenge of banging with physical LA. Splitter held his own. While his shooting percentage from the free throw line has to improve for him to be a valuable asset in the fourth quarter of games, Splitter’s field goal percentage was an incredible 84%; This showed his basketball IQ. Being able to shoot such a high percentage against some of the most physical and athletic big men in the business is a credit to his craftiness around the basket.
Gary Neal 8.2 pts 47% 3pt fg
Neal was harrassed at times by the quick backcourt of the Clippers, but managed to put up points. Neal shot a good percent from deep and made timely baskets. He’s having trouble on the defensive end, but hopefully being matched up with Derek Fisher in then next round will be a reasonable defensive assignment for him.
Stephen Jackson and Matt Bonner found themselves riding the pine for a nice portion of the series. Both had their moments; Jackson did well in game 4 by making plays for others off the dribble and Bonner has sprinkled in a few buckets. The increased production of both Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw took the majority of minutes available next to Duncan in the frontcourt. The Thunder team is deep and has shotblockers, so expect to see Bonner play more of a role in drawing out the bigs (especially Ibaka). As for Jackson, his length along Leonard’s will be very important in containing Durant.
Sunday May 27, 2012
Spurs vs Thunder
Tim Duncan F Serge Ibaka
Kawhi Leonard F Kevin Durant
Boris Diaw C Kendrick Perkins
Tony Parker G Russell Westbrook
Danny Green G Thabo Sefalosha
G Manu Ginobili | G James Harden
What to expect?
…like to get out and run and have also managed to keep their turnovers down to a manageable amount. For the Thunder to win the series, the matchups of Westbrook vs Parker and Durant vs Leonard have to be won by the Thunder convincingly. The Thunder also must look to burn the Spurs in transition whenever the veteran team does make a mistake. But first and foremost they must keep the ball, by valuing every possesion and not turning it over.
…have shot well and passed well and have been executing the gameplan defensively. For the Spurs to win the series, 2 of the Spurs big 3 have to play well. The perimeter defense of Leonard on Durant and at times the matchup of Green on Westbrook will have to pay dividends, along with the Spurs execution in the halfcourt leading to good shots and no Thunder run outs.
Advantage/Prediction? Spurs in 6
The Thunder and the Spurs are pretty evenly matched, however the Spurs have a lowpost presence and multiple scorers and shotmakers. The experience factor and the their ability to “easily” score in the halfcourt will give them the winning edge.