San Antonio Spurs (23-5) @ LA Clippers (21-8)
7:30 p.m. PST
December 22, 2016
Only four teams rank in the top-ten in offensive and defensive efficiency at this point of the 2016-2017 NBA season: Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, and two teams facing off against each other tonight in the San Antonio Spurs and LA Clippers.
The Spurs have the NBA’s 6th-best offense and 4th-best defense, and they are 15-1 on the road this season, the best record away from home in the league. San Antonio’s defense is arguably the most well-rounded in the league, as they are the only team to rank in the top-10 in each of the defensive “four factors” (shout out to Dean Oliver). The Spurs are coming off a huge 102-100 road win in Houston Tuesday night, a game in which San Antonio held the Rockets to their fewest points in 4 weeks while snapping Houston’s 10-game winning streak. San Antonio SGs Danny Green and Manu Ginobili combined to make 8-of-13 threes, while Houston made only 6-of-38 threes (15.8 percent):
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 21, 2016
The Clippers are also coming off a Tuesday night win, defeating the Denver Nuggets 119-102 without PF Blake Griffin, thanks in no small part to SG J.J. Redick hitting 7 threes. The Clippers caught the Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back, and the last time they faced the Spurs was in early November in San Antonio when both teams were playing the second night of a back-to-back. The Clippers smacked the Spurs by 24 points in that one, the largest Clippers win over the Spurs in franchise history.
This one figures to be different. San Antonio was missing starting guards Tony Parker and Green in the previous meeting in San Antonio; Ginobili will be out for this game, but Parker and Green are expected to start along with SF Kawhi Leonard, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, and C Pau Gasol. On the flipside, Griffin dominated the Spurs with 28 points on 13-of-19 shooting from the field (68.4 percent), so LA will need to replace that production.
The Spurs only visited LA once last season, the first Thursday after the All-Star break 44 weeks ago. The Clippers didn’t have Griffin or Austin Rivers, while the Spurs didn’t have Leonard or Ginobili, and the Clippers won by 19 in a game that saw Paul dominate Parker for 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 12 assists. The Spurs still haven’t beaten the Clippers in LA since the 2014-2015 playoffs:
The matchup between Leonard and Mbah a Moute will be interesting. Leonard is coming off a career-worst 7-turnover game in Houston, and he shot a season-worst 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) vs the Clippers in November. The Clippers rank 5th in offense and defense this season, and Mbah a Moute’s defense on Leonard will be key to LA showing they can win the front end of a back-to-back:
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) December 22, 2016
Clippers host Spurs tonight, a rematch of a November 5th blowout in San Antonio. What matchup are you looking forward to the most?
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) December 22, 2016
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