San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: I’m going with co-MVPs for this one in Spurs reserves Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw. Mills powered the Spurs bench in the first half, scoring 10 of his 13 points before halftime. On a night where the Clippers made only 1-of-14 threes, Mills made all four of his three-point-attempts. Mills also found a way to outrebound J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers four to three. Mills played 15 minutes, while the three Clippers guards combined to play 82. Ginobili had his best game of the series with 14 points, six assists and zero stupid fouls. But Diaw scored eight of his ten points in the fourth quarter, including the Spurs’ last two field goals of the game. Those shots were his first three in the series and a desperation fadeaway.
That was … a repeat of Game 2: Perhaps the Clippers weren’t supposed to win Games 2 and 5 on their own floor. If (when?) they lose this series, the headshaking will be enduring. The Spurs were down going into halftime, as Blake Griffin appeared to be off to a legendary performance with 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals, on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 shooting from the line. The game slowed to a grinding halt in the third quarter due to DeAndre Jordan getting Gregg Popovich-mandated target practice, but the Clippers found a way to tie the game going into the fourth. But San Antonio took advantage of the worst three-point shooting game in over five years by the Clippers, as well as the usual surplus of missed free throws (16). Chris Paul picked up a crucial fourth quarter technical foul. Crawford was destroyed defensively and unsuccessfully challenged Tim Duncan at the rim on a break, leading to a transition three by Diaw. Griffin simply didn’t have it in the fourth quarter (1-of-9 from the field, 0-of-2 from the line, three turnovers), and Jordan misjudged a potential game-winning floater from Griffin and was called for offensive goaltending. To cement the mental and physical errors, Matt Barnes, Rivers and Griffin failed to come up with a rebound on a missed free throw by Danny Green. If they don’t win another game at Staples Center this season, the Clippers will have a lot to think about for a long time.
X factor: One of the weirdest games you’ll ever see from J.J. Redick. Redick has never fouled out of a game during the regular season, but he has now fouled out of four playoff games – three as a Clipper. And on a night where the Clippers shot seven percent from downtown, Redick didn’t get a single attempt off in 42 minutes. Unreal.
— Law Murray
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Shhhhhh. Just close your eyes. It will all be over soon.
— Gregory Popovich (@FakeCoachPop) April 29, 2015
CP3's like "NOW you want to tip it in???"
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) April 29, 2015
Dad…dad…did you see that shot?!? The light came on!
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) April 29, 2015
Check Your Messages
Doc the GM and Doc the Coach on the same dark path
Austin Rivers should not be on this Los Angeles Clippers team. Austin Rivers should not be on the floor in Game 5 of a Finals-esque matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, not to mention the final several seconds. Austin Rivers left Danny Green wide open on the Clippers’ biggest defensive possession and proceeded to blow the boxout on the other end as the Spurs squeaked out the game, and most likely, the series.
It also isn’t Austin Rivers’ fault that he is Doc Rivers’ son. He plays thinking he is Chris Paul. He was angry at his dad, the coach, and the GM, for taking him out in the second half for Chris Paul. Both father and son, irrationally thinking highly of their abilities.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have carried this team this far, against the defending champions. It is altogether one of the more impressive duo performances I have ever seen. There is an urgency the moment they step on the floor, and for every single 40+ minute game they must slog through to remain even slightly competitive.
And all this, ruined by Doc the coach, Doc the GM, and Doc’s son. It’s perhaps unfair to blame them, but it’s pretty hard to blame anyone else.
– Andy Liu
Death By A Thousand Cuts
When it comes to the Spurs, they are a team often lauded for their execution, but where they truly excel is in their role as executioner. Like the torture style of ling chi, they methodically slice away one portion of the body at a time, leaving their victims to rot away until their eventual death. Motion in the offense? Take that away by blanketing J.J. Redick with Kawhi Leonard. That top rated offense? Not when they hack away at DeAndre Jordan. Three point shooting? They’ll excise that, too.
Now the Clippers limp into San Antonio for game 6 on life support, and for a team as emotional as they are known to be, it will be a challenge to get over how close this game was in spite of their inability to make uncontested shots or overcome what some would consider suspect officiating.
All things considered, the Spurs have had few answers for Chris Paul or Blake Griffin, the two most vital organs of this Clipper body. But the damage done might already have been too great.
– Brandon Tomyoy
The Little Things
Doc Rivers is right to say in a tight playoff game, one play, one possession, one shot can make the difference. While he was making this point by way of not NOT complaining about the Game 5 officiating, he and the rest of Clippers should look inwards as well.
The failure to secure a defensive rebound on Danny Green’s late free throw miss was probably not as costly as it appeared with the team being bereft of timeouts. Of course, reaching that point with no timeouts left…?
Perhaps the technical foul called on Chris Paul was unjustified, but perhaps not. Given the team’s general propensity for talk and complaint, it’s not hard to believe Paul’s too-hard chest pass to the official was accompanied by a magic word or two.
Certainly, we’ve talked about the little errors made by GM Doc. The lack of an extra ball-handler, rim defender, or big wing have all been felt during this series.
And finally, Doc the coach has been outfoxed by Gregg Popovich in subtle ways. First of all by succumbing to the “Hack-a-DJ” strategy which has been successful mostly by convincing Rivers to bench the charity stripe-challenged center. But even while Jordan remained in the game, why have Jamal Crawford on the floor in a situation where he would be playing only defense?
While this may seem like splitting hairs, between teams as evenly matched as these two, that can be the difference. Some of these details like the vagaries of refereeing or fortuitous San Antonio shotmaking are out of the Clippers’ hands. Others are disadvantages of their own making, and while we’ll never knew which was the tipping point, these subtleties haven’t helped.
– Seth Partnow