We’re a few minutes away from the tip, so consider this your game thread. Here are a few of my thoughts on the series going into Game 3:
While I’m not willing to throw in the towel just yet (maybe Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will manage to get back to full strength, I don’t know—I’m not a doctor), there’s a competitive imbalance in this series that is difficult to overlook. Both teams are very good, albeit in very different ways, but one team has the answer to all of the other’s questions.
The way I’ve been thinking about this series is that the Clippers take the form of a really rockin’ Blues group. The band gets on stage and performs with infectious energy. They usually are underappreciated for the depths of their talents as opposed to the immense entertainment they produce. And there is always that part of the concert every attendee waits for—the improvisations from the lead guitarist.
The Spurs fit a different musical model. They look much more like a time-tested, award-winning philharmonic orchestra. Led by a conductor, usually a savant, who sees the big picture better than anyone and uses that understanding to direct his musicians’ movements. Unlike a Blues group who rely on individual band members to carry the music for long periods of time, the philharmonic has hoards of musicians who play exclusively as a unit, completely tethered to their section of the orchestra. And even when one instrument group is fading out of a performance, the conductor is already making sure the next group of instruments is ready to take over (with some of the more euphonic moments being when the two groups overlap.) That’s the Spurs. When they are successful, which is the majority of the time, the basketball mind of Gregg Popovich is visibly present during every extra pass and open corner three.
The original point of this post was to relay my agony in Vinny Del Negro’s non-existent response to the Spurs method of halting the Clippers’ Pick ‘n’ Roll. The Spurs were atrocious at defending it during the regular season and Chris Paul’s execution of the classic play was one of the best in the business. After Game 1, Sebastian Pruiti over at Grantland explained how Spurs bigs are “downing” screens, using their hulking bodies as an obstacle in Chris Paul’s path to the key. I don’t have the answer. I don’t even know if there is an answer. But if there has been an attempted tactical maneuver to address the issue, it did not make its debut in Game 2.
While I have high hopes that the Clippers bring the energy in Game 3, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a crowd-inspiring solo.