We are on to the second half of the rodeo road trip. We finished the eastern swing at 5-0 (let’s pretend Memphis is in the east, they are on the way to the east for us). The second half kicks off with a game against the Clippers.
As I mentioned in my thoughts post yesterday, I expect us to be a little more focused for this game. And that means bad things for the Clippers.
The late game on TNT Thursday night was Clippers at Blazers. I decided to watch it since the Spurs play each of them in the next three games. Generally, I don’t watch teams besides the Spurs, and boy did I pay the price for breaking that tradition.
Clippers-Blazers was a seriously ugly game. The Clippers were in a back-to-back and the Blazers were ending a back-to-back-to-back. The Clippers scored 32 points in the first half. Not to be out done, the Blazers scored 28 points in the second half and 44 points in the last 3 quarters.
The Clippers are not a good team. They played some of the worst defense I have seen. They didn’t hustle back, they lost track of cutters, and they didn’t rotate on screen and rolls. They better bring a lot better effort and attention to details against the Spurs or they will get blasted.
1. Song: Pride by Syntax
I just randomly stumbled on this band at Radio Paradise. It’s one of those songs that I feel like I’ve always known, but then I see the band’s name and think “who”? Well, Syntax. That’s who.
I dig the song for it’s early 90s feel. It’s “Pride” by Syntax.
2. Key Match Up: Tony Parker vs Chris Paul
Chris Paul was pretty poor defensively against the Blazers. He lost track of his man several times. My guess is that Del Negro will try to save Paul’s energy by having him guard somebody besides Tony. If Foye ends up on Tony, look for Tony to go crazy. Foye was absolutely horrendous against the Blazers. In short, the Clippers don’t have anybody that can slow down Tony much less stay in front of him.
Conversely, look for Pop to put Tony on Paul and for Tony to pick him up full court. I think Pop will want to wear down Chris Paul so that Paul is as tired in the 4th quarter as possible.
3. Keeping An Eye On: Blake Griffin’s Defense
Blake Griffin is a rookie defensively. He can body a guy straight up, but he gets lost quickly in movement. Look for Pop to put Blake into a lot of pick and roll defensive situations. Tiago and Matt should both have a plenty of scoring opportunities available to them out of these situations.
If you are going to keep an eye on something during the game, watch what Blake Griffin does after his man sets the pick. He’ll hedge and show, then he won’t do much of anything but fade toward the basket looking to get a rebound.
4. Bold Prediction: Spurs by 20+
I think we will come out and bury a couple early 3s and build a quick 10-point lead. The Clips will fight back to about a 5-point deficit after one. Then the Spurs will open it up to double digits again with their bench. It will stay around 10 points midway through the third because Chris Paul will come out firing in the third quarter to keep them within striking distance, then our bench will rain down a bunch of 3s late in the third quarter to blow it out. We’ll have it on cruise control for most of the fourth as we enjoy a 102-79 win.
I predict a flagrant foul for Kenyon Martin and a technical for Chris Paul.
Odds and Ends
Pace. Pace will be key. The Spurs will have to get back in transition, but they will also find lots of easy baskets if they run. The Clippers are not a deep team and you can punish them if you get up and down the court.
Defensive rebounding and points in the paint. With Chauncey Billups out, the Clippers don’t have any outside shooting. If the Spurs can clog the paint and do a pretty good job on the defensive glass, then the Clippers will have a pretty hard time scoring.