It was a close one last night for the Clippers. It was a game that was decided in the last seconds or maybe wasn’t it? The fact is that LA suffered another loss against a top-4 team in the Western Conference. The final score wrote 104-102. Tim Duncan made a clutch 3-point play to give the Spurs the lead with about two seconds left in the game. However, can we be sure that this was the moment the game was decided?
With about two weeks left in the regular season, it has been clear for the Clips, that in order to win teams of the caliber of the Spurs, the Thunder or the Nuggets, they will need to fix the details in their game. Those small details can make the difference between a Champion and a Championship Contender. The Spurs are surely in the first category. As for LA, we’ll have to sit back and anticipate their bestperformance in the Playoffs.
San Antonio is a team that has cruised in the first spots of the Western Conference for the past years. It’s really incredible to see a team that won the NBA Championship 6 years ago to still conquer its entire Conference and have great chances to chase the title once again. The most interesting fact is that the Spurs have retained their roster core since that time. Despite their aging players, they still are red hot while on court. Of course, the guidance of Gregg Popovic has been a major factor for the team’s success through the years.
As for LA, they will have to make things happen now. There are no excuses. In two weeks, the story will be “win or go home”. And if you go home, you’ll have to wait awhole year to even have a shot for a Championship again.Vinnie Del Negro’s team will possibly face the Spurs during the 2nd leg, if they finish in the 3rd seed and the Spurs remain 1st. Alternatively, if LA finishes fourth, then the only possibility to play against San Antonio would be in the Western Conference Finals.
No matter which will be the opponent, the Clippers will have to fix some serious issues if they want to increase their chances for a better run. One problem that was exposed during their matchup against the Spurs was free-throw shooting. One can clearly see the difference: The Spurs shot at 95.2% from the charity stripe, 20-21. The Clippers went for a disappointing 57.1%. The team’s starting center, DeAndre Jordan hit in just one of his eight attempts. Griffin went 4 out of 5, but this could be circumstantial. That’s a difference between a Champion and a contender. Defense is another sector of LA’s game that has to be fixed, especially against three-pointers. They are trying to improve in that category, but when the Playoffs start there will be no more time for experiments.Clutch plays can also make the difference. There has to be a consistent option, a player that can set plays without committing turnovers and score easily when the ball weights 10 times more than normal, with the game on the line.
At the moment, one could say that the Clippers don’t seem to have the force to eliminate the Spurs in a 7-game stretch. Of course, things can turn upside down till the time they meet again.
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