NBA Playoff Series Preview: #3 Clippers vs. #6 Spurs
|Western Conference matchup||#3 LA Clippers||#6 SA Spurs|
|Regular Season matchups||Games won:|
Jan 31 2015: LA 105 SA 85
Feb 19 2015: SA 115 LA 119
Nov 10 2014: SA 89 LA 85
Dec 22 2014: LA 118 SA 125
|Series X-Factor||Jamal Crawford||Tony Parker|
The Western Conference is one jumbled mess of talented teams. The difference between the second seeded Rockets and the sixth seeded Spurs is one game. One game.
In this matchup, the defending champion Spurs will go on the road, like they will the entire playoffs as the sixth seed in the West, to defend their 2014 championship. The Los Angeles Clippers face a tall task even as the third seed against San Antonio, who knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. The Clippers however, have not made it out of the second round of the playoffs ever. Ever.
Chris Paul is highly regarded throughout the NBA, but he has not backed it up on the court, in the playoffs. He will need to if he wants to get out of the first round. A healthy Jamal Crawford is my X-factor in the series, if he can get hot from the field, he can single-handedly win a game or two for the Clippers. The only other players in the NBA that have that ability are the “Splash Brothers” for Golden State, Curry and Thompson. The frontcourt duo of Griffin and Jordan will need to score 40 points and grab 40 rebounds a night combined to stand a chance against the Spurs.
The San Antonio Spurs will need to win on the road in order to defend their title. That will be a tough task, but escaping out of the first round against a Clippers team that has not shown the ability to win games in the playoffs, is not a stretch. When healthy, the Spurs are the most complete team in the NBA, because they play together so well. The unselfishness is well-documented, but health is key. Is Kawhi Leonard fully healthy? Missing almost 20 games this season, last year’s Finals MVP will need to be on his game to beat the Clippers in a seven-game series. Ultimately, I believe Gregg Popovich will outduel Doc Rivers, including employing the “Hack-a-Jordan” scheme, to send DeAndre Jordan to the free-throw line often. Jordan shot an astounding 39% from the charity stripe this season, and is shooting 38% against the Spurs in his career.
If the Spurs want to continue their playoff run, Tony Parker will need to lead the team, and Tim Duncan will need to make the mid-range jumper consistently. This first round series will be close, but the Spurs will win in six games.
Prediction: Spurs in 6
Tell me what you think. Will the Spurs win the series and continue to defend their title? Dan Schalk covers the NBA for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @ffsportstalk