Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs
5:30 p.m. PST
December 22, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
Video of the Day
Kawhi, huge hands.
1. How debilitating is playing back-to-back three-overtime games?
Matthew Tynan, 48 Minutes of Hell, (@Matthew_Tynan): If I got tired just by sitting and watching those two games, then I can’t imagine how they felt. The Spurs are so good at keeping their old guys fresh, but you could see their legs give out more and more with each extra five minutes. Duncan played nearly 92 minutes in those two games combined; Danny Green played 95 minutes. It was a lot to deal with, especially given the injuries to Parker and Leonard, but they’ll be fine after staying home for their quick road trip to Dallas.
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): Take however debilitating a normal overtime game is, multiply it by three, and add an exponent of 4 (for the number of games in San Antonio’s current losing streak). The Spurs haven’t lost four straight regular-season games since March, 2011. And what likely irks Popvich even more than that is the toll those extra minutes take—hence the starters’ absence against Dallas Saturday.
Law Murray, (@LawMurrayTheNU): Dude, I don’t even know. Think about it: the last team to play back-to-back triple-OT games was the Baltimore Bullets. That was way back in 1951. They didn’t even have a team three years later. So if the Spurs are defunct in 2017, we’ll know why.
2. What’s the most important factor in Tim Duncan maintaining such a high level of play to age 38?
Tynan: It’s his diet and conditioning. I realize that answer sounds cliche, but there’s no other way to explain it. Popovich has answered that question a million times over the years, and that’s how he replies as well. Ever since he dropped 25-plus pounds during the summer of 2011, he’s been a different player. He’s the first person in the gym, the last to leave—all the cliche answers I can give. But it’s true. He’s just relentless.
James: I don’t think we’re dealing with top secret information here. He lost a bit a weight a few years back, and slimming down is a proven tactic for easing the burden on big guys’ knees. Same goes for the Popvichian approach to regular-season minutes. And when your nickname is the “big fundamental,” it makes sense that you’d age well.
Murray: Good teammates and a good coach. Duncan is the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of our generation. He’s a physical marvel, the likes of which we’ll probably never see in the NBA again. He’s the Big Fundamental, so he was always going to be able to be productive late in his career. Give Duncan his due. But just like Kareem had Magic, Worthy and Riley, Tim had Parker, Ginobili and Popovich to keep the stress down.
3. The Clippers’ next four games include at San Antonio, at Atlanta, vs. Golden State and vs. Toronto. What would be considered a successful record over this stretch?
Tynan:Well, Parker and Leonard are both out for the Spurs tonight, so that feels like one the Clippers want to get. Then again, we’ve seen the Half-Spurs (or Spurs Lite) do damage to opponents before. A trip to Atlanta on the second night of a back-to-back is no easy task, and of course the Warriors and Raptors both lead their respective conferences. With the Clips’ inconsistencies this season, I feel like you’d live with 2-2; but for a team with title hopes, winning three out of the next four would mean something more. It’s still just December, though.
James: If they don’t go at least 2-2, you should expect to hear chirping about the Clippers not being real contenders. But realistically, this is such a brutal stretch that I’d be happy with going 1-3 and looking competitive. Merry Christmas!
Murray: The Clippers are supposed to be the best team in the West. So they need to win at least three games here. Folks love to use asterisks when evaluating a slate of games, so this is a rare week of no BS on the schedule. The Clippers aren’t a .500-caliber team, so they shouldn’t be satisfied with splitting this week just because the competition steps up a class.