By Jose Grijalva, Project Spurs.com
In the first meeting between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers, the Spurs knew their opponents were hungry for revenge and didn't know what to expect. In the second meeting, they knew more or less what to expect from the Clippers, but they didn't expect what was going to happen to their backup-moved-to-starting small forward Stephen Jackson when he fractured his right pinky on his shooting hand.
With the exception of the first quarter (where the Spurs outscored the Clippers 28-18), San Antonio had a tough time containing the Clippers with a combination of good Los Angeles offense, bad San Antonio decision making, and some questionable calls by the referees. The Spurs didn't give up and had a unlikely hero in Matt Bonner hitting some tough three point shots and savvy shots close to the rim, but in the end they couldn't get close enough for a tie. Are the Clippers the better overall team or can the Spurs be if they tweak their schemes and decision making? These are some problems that the Spurs faced that can be fixed: The Blake Griffin Effect
: No one is going to argue this - the guy is a beast. Griffin has burned the Spurs this season in game one (22 points, 10-16 FG, 10 rebounds) and game two (16 points, 8-18 FG, 12 rebounds). The plan the Spurs have had is to guard Griffin with whoever is starting next to Tim Duncan (Boris Diaw in game one, Dejuan Blair in game two). One of the main reasons coach Gregg Popovich has created this defensive match up is to counter DeAndre Jordan's size and capitalize on his lack of shooting, which allows Duncan to stay close to the rim to help. The problem that Griffin has given the Spurs is that he's developed a mid range jump shot to go with his quickness, which forces his defender to either give him room or play him close which forces Duncan to commit to help and leaving Jordan open. Once Duncan helps, that forces a Spurs small to help on a pass to Jordan, which forces another Spurs player to rotate (the scheme that the Spurs had against the New York Knicks when Carmelo Anthony was playing the power forward position). If the Spurs still want to go man defense against the Clippers for their third meeting, don't be surprised if Duncan is defending Griffin at the start or for the majority of the game. Even at 36 years old, Tim Duncan still has a combination of wingspan, height, and speed that some NBA big men wish they could have.
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