Normally speaking, about the only sports teams that are being talked about in Tinseltown this time of year are the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Los Angeles Lakers. This time though, the Los Angeles Kings are on the verge of the Stanley Cup, and the Los Angeles Clippers – yes, you read that correctly – the Los Angeles Clippers are amongst the last eight teams standing in the NBA playoffs. The Clips are set to begin what figures to be a brutally tough series against the top team in the Western Conference though, the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs have been off for quite some time, as they finished off the Utah Jazz in a sweep in the first round of the playoffs. Game 1 will be the first game that San Antonio has played since May 7th, giving it a full week off before having to get back on the hardwood. Meanwhile, the Clippers only just finished up their series with the Memphis Grizzlies on the road on Mother’s Day, and are right back at it.
Head Coach Vinny Del Negro deserves a ton of credit for getting his team to fight back in Game 7 at the FedEx Forum. The Clips had every single excuse to lay down. Blake Griffin was hurting. Chris Paul was hurting. The game was on the road in a horrible environment for a road team. LA had also lost two straight games in this series, including one at Staples Center, and it just didn’t feel anything like the better team in the series.
But yet, the mighty Clippers got the job done to get into the second round of the playoffs, and Del Negro has gone from scapegoat to hero. Even getting swept in this series should keep him safe, as the much beleaguered head coach of the team has done enough in our eyes to warrant keeping his job.
Of course, it all comes down to CP3 and Griffin for the Clips. If they aren’t combining for at least 40 points, the rest of the offense is going to find some troubles taking care of business. That’s why Los Angeles might be in so much trouble in this series. The Spurs can count on a plethora of different players to get the job done, as Head Coach Gregg Popovich uses all 13 men that he has at his disposal virtually every single night.
Only Patrick Mills and Tiago Splitter didn’t get into all four games of the first series against the Jazz. Tony Parker led the way with 21.0 points and 6.5 assists per game, while Tim Duncan averaged 14.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Aside from that, no one did better than the 10.0 points per game of Stephen Jackson, but he was one of the six players aside from Duncan and Parker that averaged at least 7.0 points per game.
This series figures to be a brutal one for the Clippers, especially with the back-to-back games that are going to take place at Staples Center over the course of the weekend. Still, at 26-10 this year at home, the Clips are tough to beat at that venue, though matters are going to be even harder against a San Antonio team that is 30-5 thus far at the AT&T Center this year.
In the regular season, the Spurs took two out of three games. The Clippers have to feel like they have a bit of an advantage, knowing that they won by a dozen the last time these two teams played at the AT&T Center, though we know that it is going to be tough to get another win on the road.
5Dimes Sportsbook understandably has the Spurs as tremendous -2200 favorites on the NBA playoff series lines. The Clippers are lined at +1350 to pull off the upset, though few are expecting to see them win more than maybe a game or two in this series.
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