While waiting to write this Semifinals piece all week while the Clippers and Grizzlies battled it out, I kept wondering who I would rather face if I were the Spurs. The easy answer would be the Grizzlies.
The Spurs went 4-0 against the Grizzlies and most of the games weren’t all that close. They went only 2-1 against the Clips, winning one in overtime. But is anything ever that simple? I’ll save some time and say yes, it is that easy. If I were the Spurs, I would rather not face the Clippers.
At first I i thought it was just a preference, but now I think it’s more than that.
I really want to say I picked the Spurs to win. It just seems right. They’re the good guys of the NBA, a dynasty truly built. Here’s every reason the Spurs should win this series:
Health/Rest: Although he made no excuses, the one excuse Popovich did make last year was his team’s health. This year however, everyone has looked good all year. Popovich was able to strategically rest his guys down the stretch of a condensed season. Did I say everyone looks good? Everyone looks good.
Preparation: The Spurs have been watching every Clippers game since closing out the Jazz Monday. The coaching staff has dissected every play and strategy the Clips have used all year and playoffs.
Rhythm: The Spurs shouldn’t technically be in rhythm, but they say they are. Not only have they won fourteen games in a row, but while waiting for the series to end, the Spurs have been scrimmaging with refs and the whole deal. Check it out here.
Not only that, but the Spurs have appeared to be in a rhythm all year long. They haven’t lost more than three games in a row, they have a few impressive winning streaks throughout the seasons and their hiccups were nothing more than just that- hiccups. They are seemingly rolling.
The Original “Big Three” (+ coach): The Spurs’ “Big Three” and their coach have more experience and chemistry than any other “Big Three” in the league, and that’s an understatement. They are a combined 99+ years old and each has spent every season of their NBA career in San Antonio.
Popovich and Duncan have won four NBA titles together and Ginobli and Parker were in on the most recent three. These aren’t just role players. Duncan is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, two time MVP and three time Finals MVP; Parker is a perennial All-Star and 2007 Finals MVP who received first place MVP votes this year; and Ginobli is a two time All-Star and former sixth man of the year.
Are they getting older and, in Duncan’s case, old? Sure, but they had the best record in the NBA this year. That’s saying something. It’s saying “We still got it.”
The Lob City Clips, on the other hand, have a big two in CP3 and Blake Griffin that are playing in their first season together. The team as a core is in their first season of competing together and with virtually no pre-season have had to learn along the way.
Built “the Right Way”: This is more of just a “good guys should always win” note. Did I mention the Spurs’ big three have all spent their entire NBA careers in San Antonio? Yes I did. The Spurs truly, text book definitively built their team.
The Clippers went with the Miami Heat-style of team building. Sam Quinn at Bleach Report does a great job of capturing this contrast here. Read that, and tell me why the Clippers should beat the Spurs in a seven game series in which the Spurs have home-court advantage. They shouldn’t.
Bonus: Is it possible not to like Tim Duncan?
Okay, so do you believe me? Should the Spurs win? Isn’t that only fair? Okay, good. Now here’s why they won’t.
Rhythm: I know, I know. I said that rhythm is why the Spurs should win. But Tim Duncan said himself he’s all about rhythm and the Spurs, when they play Wednesday, will not have played in eight days.
The Clippers, in the meantime, have been getting their stuff together in the past two weeks. By stuff I mean playoff basketball, which is so different from regular season ball, it’s almost sad.
Changing of the Guard: Let me list you some Finals MVP’s of the past eight years: Tim Duncan, Chauncey Billups, Paul Pierce, Kobe and Dirk. Is it me or do we not expect the Finals MVP’s of the next five years to list guys like Kevin Durant, D Rose, LeBron (maybe), and CP3? Is that proof that the Clips are going to win? No, I say that to make a point: there is a changing of the guard taking place.
It’s been five years since the Spurs won their last NBA championship and this Spurs team isn’t necessarily a different team. In fact, I think they might be a better team, but it does appear to be a different league. I don’t think the Spurs feel pressure that their time is running out in this league of new faces, but I do believe they realize it is running out with this group.
I don’t think the average fan realizes how good Chris Paul is. His ball handling skills and vision are second to none, but his intangibles are off the charts. Just watch the Clippers down the stretch. The guy doesn’t flinch.
At age 27, it feels like he has the experience and basketball wisdom of a 15 year vet. When push comes to shove, the guy is as annoying on defense as Metta World Peace or Tony Allen. And nothing on Tony Parker, but Chris Paul has an edge, a level of attitude I don’t see in TP.
Vinny Del Negro almost got fired, remember? Chris Paul is literally leading this team, and I am 100% cool with that if I’m the Clippers. Where he goes, the team goes. And with more talent than he’s ever had, Chris Paul is going places. Places that have gold trophies with a golden basketball on top. Maybe not this year, but Chris Paul is winning championships. Plural.
I could be wrong. I could be very wrong. The Spurs may have finally put it all together again in these long five years since their last championship. Greg Popovich may have found the perfect recipe for a veteran, chemistry-full core group among the influx of talent that has been the last ten years of the NBA. Shoot, Tony Parker could turn around and do exactly what I’m describing Chris Paul will do.
But I don’t think I’m wrong. So as the series begins on Tuesday, let’s all root for the Spurs. Let’s love them. Let’s embrace them. But let’s not be surprised or angry when the Clippers win in six.
About the Author
Written by Nick Jones
I am currently a full time college student preparing for life's next big step. Sports are one of my choice passions in life and I have always loved participating. However, during my latter years of high school, I was enlightened of two things about myself. The first was that I was far better at evaluating and analyzing sports than I was in performance on the field of play. The second was that I had a gift for writing. I have grown to love studying, analyzing and following sports. I'm from central IL so I love my Chicago teams. Favorite team is by far my Cubbies! Sports are just my side passion, I would be leaving out the best part of my life if I didn't say that I love Jesus with all of my heart. My whole life's all about Him!