San Antonio Spurs
MVP: Chris Paul took care of business in Game 1, and he scored 13 of his game-high 32 points in the 4th quarter of this win, making 13 of 20 field goals. Paul added seven rebounds, six assists and two steals while thoroughly outplaying his counterpart Tony Parker (10 points on 11 shots, one assist).
That was … direct: The Clippers weren’t messing around here, though they had to win the game multiple times here. You all knew the Clippers weren’t holding on to the 12-point lead they had built after one quarter, and verily, Doc Rivers rolled out an all-bench unit that sparked a 10-0 Spurs run to begin the second quarter. But after Matt Barnes and Aron Baynes struggled their way out of bounds with 4:41 left in the third quarter, the Clippers never let the Spurs within eight points, highlighted by Griffin slamming highlights in Baynes’ face twice.
X factor: After missing most of March with a calf injury, Jamal Crawford played in the final four games of the regular season. He only scored 28 points on 36 shots in those four games, shooting 28 percent from the field. But the 35-year-old sixth man caught fire Sunday night, leading the bench with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. Crawford hadn’t shot the ball that well since going 7-of-10 against the Sacramento Kings on November 1, 2013.
— Law Murray
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Ultimately, this series is a race against time: can Clippers win four games before they run their starting 5 into the ground?
— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) April 20, 2015
You know, I think that No. 1 ranking for the Clippers' offense was legit.
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) April 20, 2015
This is an incredible sequence by the Clippers, all at the expense of Aron Baynes pic.twitter.com/xfheKeTzuX
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 20, 2015
RIP Aaron Baynes | https://t.co/Yo7EMIQKWb
— Sports Vines (@TheSportsVines) April 20, 2015
Pretty much the perfect Clips home game. Had everything. Spurs got killed by Baynes/Green. Splitter barely played. Parker looked blah.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) April 20, 2015
Check Your Messages
Forget the Minutes
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul played 43 minutes and 38 minutes, respectively. And we proceeded to act as if the Los Angeles Clippers would limp into a potential Game 6 with Griffin holding his knees while puking out Gatorade on one end and Chris Paul with his hands behind his head sucking in oxygen before the game even starts. The minutes are high, but they’re not astronomical. And to be fair to Doc Rivers, they aren’t even concerning.
The bench is complete and utter trash; this is obvious and not even worth a mention beyond auto neck-wringing at this point. But playing your star players huge minutes in the postseason is not shocking because, well, the games are more important. Obviously.
Draymond Green and Stephen Curry played 42 and 40 minutes, respectively, for the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, a team considered far deeper than the Clippers. While this may be true, these are not worrisome observations for the fans.
Perhaps this comes back to bite the Clippers in the long-term, especially when Austin Rivers and Glen Davis remain this unplayable even for a one-minute stretch. But for this series, the ramifications will amount to nil. The minutes should remain sustainable. And as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin’s does the same, this could just be the beginning.
– Andy Liu
Neutralizing Kawhi Leonard
A number of times the Clippers looked to be in a bind defensively, when Kawhi Leonard found post position against Jamal Crawford or J.J. Redick. But Doc Rivers neutralized this threat, by having one Clipper double hard and the rest essentially zone up on the weakside. Leonard has made offensive strides, but still is tentative and doesn’t quite understand the court. Los Angeles made unclear which Spur was open with the zone, forcing Leonard to dribble out the perimeter. There, the offense was reset, with precious time taken off of the shot clock.
– Jacob Frankel
Loud and Proud
“We Are LA.” It’s a term plastered all over the Clippers playoff branding this season, and displayed prominently on the t-shirts given out to fans for Game 1. Looking deeper, it also feels like a tacit reminder to many that despite the insistence of some to feign acknowledgement of this team as a part of this city, these Clips do figure into the fabric of Los Angeles.
It hasn’t always seemed that way this season, with the home crowd steamrolled by the rowdy fanbases of many visiting teams. DeAndre Jordan referring to these incidents as road games only exacerbates the situation, leading many to question the level of participation among their fellow fans.
Fast forward to tonight. A sea of red was painted across the Staples Center seats, with a raucous and active crowd from the moment the ball tipped off. Fans stood, fans clapped, and fans cheered at volumes that Clippers games hadn’t reached all season.
Yes, it helps that the Clippers played well. For the heavy minutes that the starters played, the active audience likely provided a boost, too. But when home court advantage is in many ways a known quantity, it was great to have a night that didn’t end wondering if action and reaction truly go hand in hand.
– Brandon Tomyoy
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