After coming off a win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs will host the revamped Los Angeles Clippers tonight at the AT&T Center.
The Clippers come into tonight's content with much hype. Their offseason acquisitions of Caron Butler, Chris Paul, and Chauncey Billups to mix with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan all but makes the Clippers a threat in the Western Conference.
However, history is not on the Clippers' side.
Los Angeles has not won in San Antonio since 2002 and the Spurs are ready to continue that streak tonight. Moreover, the Clippers have lost 25 of their last 28 games versus the Spurs dating back to December 1, 2003.
However, this isn't the Clippers of old.
With a talented roster of young and old, Los Angeles might prove a handful tonight for San Antonio.
To talk more about tonight's matchup, I turn to friend of Project Spurs Peter Kim of The No Look Pass. Please check out TNLP for all things Lakers, Clippers and the NBA. In this Q&A, Peter talks about the hype surrounding the Clippers, whether the Clippers are a legit threat in the NBA, the key matchup and more.
Jeff: The Clippers' hype is at a fever pitch and rightfully so. But are there any concerns about the squad that may be getting lost in all the hype?
Peter: The hype would be a concern for a young team without veteran leadership.
Luckily for the Clippers, they have veteran leadership in Chauncey Billups, a former perennial all-star and NBA Finals MVP. Chris Paul even went as far as calling him his "big brother." So with these two natural leaders and Blake Griffin setting a great example with his work ethic, getting lost in the hype should not be a concern for this team.
With Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups in the fold, where does this leave Mo Williams and does this make him expendable as the trade deadline nears?
Not exactly expendable but he is a very important piece to this Clipper team. Clippers GM Neil Olshey envisioned Mo Williams as a 6th man at some point in his time in LA when he acquired him from the Cavaliers last season and it's happening now. It's pretty much the perfect role for Williams. However, despite his $8.5 million due to him, both this season and next, he could definitely be a valuable trade asset for the Clippers to perhaps get a backup center.
How far can this team go should they make the playoffs and why?
It's too early to say and this team could be a first round exit team or make it to the finals, there are just too many things yet to be seen. The Clippers were 1 win away from the Conference Finals in 2006 with the veteran leadership of Sam Cassell and one could assume this team should get at least that far. Chauncey Billups said in an interview that one of the best things that he can do is tell the players about his experiences and what he believes in terms of what the team should be doing. He also talks about going not always going for the home run like the alley-oops plays but instead 'going for singles' and ultimately making the smartest basketball play rather than the flashiest one. This is the type of mentality that the Clippers will need if they make the playoffs.
The Clippers haven't won in San Antonio since January 2002. What will it take for the Clippers to snap this losing streak tonight?
Over the years, the Clippers have had an extremely difficult time defending quick guards on the opposing teams. Tony Parker is no exception. He's always able to get into the paint and seemingly score with ease. In the first two matchups between the Clippers and Spurs last season, Parker went 8 of 16 from the floor and had 9 assists. In the Clippers' win against the Spurs, he went 1 for 6. So the Clippers should lock down on Parker defensively and do what they can to use their youth against an aging team playing a back to back.
For fans tuning into tonight's content, what matchup should they focus on during the game?
Blake Griffin vs. Tim Duncan will always be a fun matchup. One is an athletic freak of nature and one is arguably the most fundamentally sound power forward to ever play the game. Griffin has had some difficulty playing against taller defenders such as Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan but in the 3 previous meetings last season Griffin was extremely efficient at the rim (15-19) when both he and Duncan were on the floor together and not so much from further than that (2-14). So it will be interesting to see these two go at it again and it should be one that fans should watch closely since Duncan will likely be playing limited minutes.
The big difference will on the guards. Who will guard Paul? Who will guard Billups? Perhaps new players will do the trick. Joseph on Paul and Anderson on Billups. Let not the victory over the grizzlies mislead the spurs. Griffin and Jordan are young the eager to show their wares. Blair on Griffin and Splitter on Jordan. What about TD? As usual limit his minutes for things to come. It will not be amiss for the spurs to fill up the team with 2 pf/c. The front court is thin and they need interior defense.
@rtesoro440 I think you're overestimating pure talent on the Clippers! yes if they play as a team that has been together for years with that much talent they can put up a fight. But you can't just put talented players together and play organized playground basketball to beat a team that won the west last season.