The Clippers didn’t have much time to celebrate their emotional, hard-fought seven-game series victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. In fact, things are probably about to get a whole lot tougher.
Tuesday night, they’ll walk into the AT&T Center to kick-off their conference semifinal series against the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs, a little over 48 hours after first round triumph.
The Spurs finished the abbreviated regular season with a record of 50-16, including 28-5 on their home court.
While the Clippers had to fight through extreme physical play, a few injuries and countless intense moments just to get through Memphis, the Spurs haven’t played since last Monday after easily sweeping away the Utah Jazz in round one. Tuesday’s game will be Los Angeles’ sixth in the last 11 days.
One major factor in this series will be the play of the respective benches, as was the case for the Clippers vs. Memphis.
The bench truly was the difference in that series, most notably in game seven, when the likes of Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Eric Bledsoe and Nick Young were too much for the Grizz to handle. That discrepancy in depth doesn’t exist in this series against San Antonio.
The Spurs quietly added depth as the season progressed, adding Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson to an already solid group.
Obviously, the Clippers are going to have to find a way to try and contain San Antonio’s most prominent reserve, Manu Ginobili, as well.
On the injury front for Los Angeles, Chris Paul (hip) and Caron Butler (hand) will undoubtedly play, while Blake Griffin’s (knee) status remains unclear. The All-Star forward insists that he’ll play.
The Spurs are 2-1 against the Clippers this season, with the lone loss coming in a game in which Tony Parker sat out to rest a sore thigh.
The most notable win came February 18 at Staples Center, a game the Clippers had all-but won before a wild play prior to the end of regulation.
Ryan Gomes (remember him?) inbounded the ball to a streaking Paul heading towards midcourt, only Paul was too close to the line and unwisely flipped the ball into the air instead of taking the backcourt violation.
The ball rolled right to Spurs backup guard Gary Neal, who calmly drilled a three from the top of the key to send the game into overtime. San Antonio went on to win it 103-100. That loss sent the Clippers into a bit of a tailspin, as they went on to lose eight of their next 12 games.
While the aging Tim Duncan vs. the injured Blake Griffin matchup will be interesting to watch, most eyes will be fixed on Tony Parker against Chris Paul.
Paul finished third in MVP voting, while Parker finished fifth.
No rest for the weary.
Game one tips-off Tuesday night at 6:30pm PT from AT&T Center in San Antonio.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.